New Mexico First: Deaf man gets his Commercial Drivers Licence

Fernando Ramirez-Savon, the first deaf person in New Mexico to get a CDL, inspects his big rig
Fernando Ramirez-Savon, the first deaf person in New Mexico to get a CDL, inspects his big rig

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – For the first time, a deaf person in New Mexico earned his Commercial Drivers License.

“The reason I wanted to learn to be a truck driver is because when I was young in Cuba, my dad drove trucks. So, he taught me how to do that,” said Fernando Ramirez-Savon.

Ramirez-Savon always knew that he wanted to be a big rig driver. However, Ramirez-Savon is deaf, and until recently his hearing impairments prevented him from achieving his dream.

“Back when deaf people couldn’t get the license,  I felt like I was kind of stuck,” said Ramirez-Savon.

In 2013, the Department of Transportation changed the requirements a person has to meet to obtain a Commercial Drivers License. Those changes allowed deaf people to take the tests and classes needed for a CDL.

“We’re actually kind of leading the way and showing that a deaf person can do anything that a hearing person can do,” said Erin Wilson, with the CNM Disability Resource Center.

Ramirez-Savon took all his classes and tests to obtain his CDL at CNM. Wilson says even with the changes from the DOT, there were still challenges in the testing process they had to work through.

“Legally, the interpreters could not be in the front seat,” said Wilson.

Wilson and CNM worked together to create a way for Ramirez-Savon to be able to communicate and understand instruction during the CDL test. They came up with fastening an iPad to the truck that served as a rearview mirror of sorts.

“The iPad that we had was in the truck and was set up in such a way that it looked back in the sleeper area where the interpreter was. It would point the camera at the interpreter so while he was driving he could glance over and see what instructions he was getting from the instructor,” said Vardis Gaus, the Truck Driving Chair at CNM.

Ramirez-Savon passed the test, which came as no surprise to his teachers.

“He was really paying attention. He was one student that was never absent. He was on time every time,” said Gaus.

“It took a lot of support and I just wanted to show that deaf people can do it and I was really excited about that,” said Ramirez-Savon.

Ramirez-Savon landed his first job and will be moving to Miami, FL to follow his dreams.

CNM says they proudly work to accommodate students with any kind of special needs.

If you want to contact CNM, click here.

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