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Driver's Licence For The Blind

Editor's Note: From the editor: The following article is re-printed from the newsletter of the Toronto Chapter of the NFB:AE.

Picture this scenario. You walk into the bank and try to cash a cheque or withdraw money and are asked for your driver's licence by the bank teller. You stand there with your white cane or your guide dog "Charlie" having to explain that you are blind and do not have a licence. You are required to show your citizenship or birth certificate for identification purposes. Has this happened to you?

Well, before you rush off to drive your new Porsche or Mercedes, there is hope on the way. Currently, in British Columbia, the Ministry of Transport offers a plasticized photo "licence" issued to blind individuals for ID purposes. This non-driving driver's licence, not yet available in Ontario, is one of the main issues that the Toronto Chapter of the NFB:AE is currently pursuing.

The following letter was written to the Hon. Al Palladini, Minister of Transportation, Province of Ontario.

The purpose of this letter is to request your consideration for an initiative that can, in our opinion, provide useful service to blind and other disabled citizens of the Province of Ontario at little or not cost. This idea is for a special driver's licence to be issued to persons who cannot drive for identification purposes.

A program of this type has been successfully implemented in the Province of British Columbia for some time and is known as a Non- Driver ID. Similar programs are in effect in several states of the United States.

For many blind, and other disabled persons, a particular problem has been to provide well recognized identification when needed for such things as opening bank accounts, using credit cards, etc. The most common identification, provided by the majority of the population, is their driver's licence. This type of verification is currently unavailable to blind and other individuals who are unable to drive.

A non-driver licence, particularly if accompanied by a photo I.D., would be ideal for establishing a non-driver's identity. In addition, such a program makes use of the existing infrastructure. As implemented in British Columbia, the applicant for a non-driver's "driver's licence" pays the same fees as any driver.

We feel that this program would enable you to provide a valuable service to disabled people in the Province of Ontario using an existing system and at little or no cost to Ontario taxpayers. I look forward to hearing your reaction to this idea soon.

Yours very truly, Elizabeth Coates, President Toronto Chapter, NFB:AE

Letters from blind people in Ontario supporting our position would be most helpful. We will keep you informed of any future development.Please be sure to send me copies of any correspondence on this issue.Phil Wiseman, 69 New Haven's Way, Thornhill, Ontario, L3T 5G1 or e-mail: pneville@neptune.on.ca

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