When You Don’t Drive Due To Vision Impairment

Employers Expect A Drivers License;

The above statement gets me into trouble often, but It comes from first hand experience of myself a vision impaired person with a hidden disability, taking on the workforce, through it’s mainstream channels, and going through the recruitment process like anybody else would.

We can sit here and debate this, and we can argue that discrimination laws would protect the applicant for the job, but this is simply not how the world works in reality. People can and do get away with discriminating people who don’t drive during the hiring process because it’s virtually impossible to prove.

If I was hiring you, and you didn’t drive, I could easily pass over you stating some other reason, as long as I keep it to myself, you have no way, and neither does anyone else of proving that.

What is HR looking for? – people who are capable of the role, people who are flexible, and people who are low risk to the business, not being able to drive, and an employee who can’t bounce across town, at a moments notice isn’t attractive to an employer. I think it’s wrong, but even I recognise that.

If it were up to me, I would outlaw an employer from being able to ask questions about mobility, when the job role isn’t about driving.

Small Towns & Transport

This sounds crazy when you say this out loud, but some small towns in Australia do not operate bus services on a Sunday. If you don’t drive, or like many people who are vision impaired, can’t drive, you have the options of asking someone for a lift, or using a hire car service, taxi or if you are lucky enough, Uber in the city.

I won’t name them here, but one regional Australian town in NSW went as far as to block Uber from coming to their city because the argued the competition would destroy business and the taxis would no longer be a viable business.

Cost Is A Limiting Factor

If you can’t drive due to a disability, distance translates to dollars, and you find yourself sacrificing social engagements, or even getting out the house because the cost to get to the other side of town is outrageous, and sadly out of the reach of many people.

Ableism In The Way Of Self Driving

Kind of, lets be honest the technology must mature first, and we must build out the infrastructure to support this technology in Australia, but what I see as concerning is public attitudes towards self-driving cars.

I once saw a dad of a completely blind boy mock self driving cars on Facebook, He can drive, his son can’t. It’s his poor attitude in my opinion which doesn’t help the social shift in adopting this technology.

One social issues I see is trust, people don’t understand the technology, they don’t understand that self-driving cars are built with redundant computer and mechanical systems. – the cars Lidar, which is a sensor used to build a 3D map of the world with lasers, the Radar, a radio system used for roughly the same purpose and vision camera systems all build a world with a view far greater than we can see with our own eyes.

The self-driving cars, don’t blink, get tired, or distracted, they don’t take drugs or drink alcohol behind the wheel and even today are capable of seeing all moving cars, pedestrians and obstructions around them and make decisions and predictions about all movements, simultaneously, thousands of times a second.

This is something no human is capable of.

The other odd social issue I see is people think they will loose the right to drive, they think they will loose the steering wheel and the sport of driving. It’s not about what you might loose, it’s about what people will gain, people who are vision impaired who have no independence.

We seem incredibly conservative in this country when it comes to the adoption of new modes of transport, never forget we are the country known for protesting when Concorde, the supersonic Jet arrived in Sydney. (how embarrassing.)

Your Turn, What’s Your Experience?

I’d love to here from you in the form of a comment below, how you have experienced set-backs due to not driving and visual impairment?