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Fulfilling dream, hearing-impaired man gets commercial driver's license

Morgan Aguilar
October 12, 2017 05:45 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- An Albuquerque man recently became the first New Mexican with a hearing impairment to get his commercial driver’s license.

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Fernando Ramirez-Savon grew up in Cuba, where his father was a truck driver. He said his fascination with big trucks started at a young age. He decided to follow in his father’s footsteps, except he wanted to do it in the United States. For him, that meant learning two new languages.

"I had to learn English and I had to learn American Sign Language," Ramirez-Savon said.

Last year, Ramirez-Savon found out it was no longer illegal for truck drivers to be deaf. Right away, he got a waiver from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and contacted CNM’s Disability Resource Center to find out whether its truck driving program was accessible to him.

"The first thing we did was meet with all the instructors to make sure that they understood what was going to be happening," said Vardis Gaus, a CNM truck driving instructor.

Gaus said they worked with the DRC to come up with a plan that involved the instructor sitting in the passenger seat with a camera pointed at the interpreter sitting in the back. They then mounted an iPad near the dash so Ramirez-Savon could see what the interpreter was signing and see the road at the same time.

"Of course if something was going on in the mirrors, if I noticed something, I would tell the interpreter to hold on and I would wait until it was safe to look," Ramirez-Savon said.

He already has a truck driving job lined up in Miami. He hopes his story encourages everyone to follow their dreams. He also thanks CNM for helping him make his come true.

"You opened a new door for deaf people, you know?" Ramirez-Savon told Gaus, "so if another person comes and wants to do this, they're able to and they can follow in my footsteps."

Gaus said teaching Ramirez-Savon was a great learning experience for the instructors, too, and hopes they’re able to help more deaf students in the future.

"It was very good to see how much we could learn from this experience so that if anybody else comes to us, we have the ability to help them out," Gaus said.

Credits

Morgan Aguilar

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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