One college student from Wyoming isn’t letting his deafness hinder his dream of having a CDL trucking job. Robert Stein of the Amarillo (Texas) Globe-News highlighted James Hanson’s inspirational story, telling how Hanson has been deaf since age 3.
That didn’t stop Hanson, now 26, from entering a career that many people might think is off-limits to those who are deaf, writes Stein. Hanson recently became the fourth completely deaf student to graduate from the Amarillo College Truck Driving Academy since 2014, which college officials said is gaining a reputation for its ability to meet the unique needs of others like him.
“I’ve always had an interest in driving,” Hanson conveyed through his interpreter, Autumn McClanahan.
“My dad, in the past, he was a truck driver, so he supported that.”
“It makes me so happy to be graduating,” Hanson added as he celebrated along with classmates at a cookout at Amarillo College’s East Campus.
The Wyoming native’s path to Amarillo College began with Wyoming’s Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, the story states. Because of his hearing impairment, Hanson needed a waiver from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to skip the hearing examination required for a CDL driver job.
Finding a school that could accommodate Hanson wasn’t easy.
There wasn’t a school in Wyoming that could accommodate him. That’s how Hanson ended up in Amarillo, Texas. Case worker Carey Gill told the Amarillo Globe-News she spent months searching before learning of Amarillo College’s trucking program for the deaf.
“This is too good to be true,” Gill recalled thinking at the time. But six weeks and 240 hours of training later, Hanson graduated with a certificate and a license to drive a big rig.
“It was a very smooth process and very life changing for him,” Gill said.
Upon arriving at Amarillo College, Hanson matched with an American Sign Language interpreter from the college’s division of Disability Services. Overall, she stuck with him through the whole process. She shared the truck cab while he practiced with his learners permit or took his drivers test.
Now, the Amarillo College truck driving program receives more inquiries from deaf students nationwide, said Amarillo College Truck Driving Academy Director Jerry Terry. And, Hanson works towards a promising truck driving career.
Read the rest of the Amarillo Globe-News story here. All photos by the Amarillo Globe-News.
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