There are estimated to be over 3,000 driving instructors plying their trade from behind the wheel of vehicles across Scotland educating learners about the rules of the road.

However, few specialise in teaching profoundly Deaf and hard of hearing people to drive, despite census figures suggesting over 350,954 Scots - around 6.6 per cent of the population - has hearing loss as a long-term health condition. 

Now one young man has disrupted the status quo after becoming the first Deaf BSL user driving instructor in Scotland. 

Kieran Cuthbert, from Kilbirnie in North Ayrshire, achieved the qualification after passing his Approved Driving Instructor Part 3 instructional ability test this week.

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Speaking to The Herald, the 26-year-old said he is in “disbelief” that he passed the test and is finding it hard to process the fact he is now a fully qualified driving instructor. 

He said: “I’m extremely happy and in complete disbelief that I did pass the ADI part 3 test. I still cannot get over the fact that I am now a fully qualified driving instructor, when just days ago I was calling myself a trainee driving instructor. It goes to show how quickly things can change, especially in this business

“I was pretty sure when I saw the examiner walking back to the car to discuss the results, my heart sank as he did not look too pleased and I thought I had failed, as soon as he got in the car and closed the door, he said ‘I would like to congratulate you on passing the part 3 test’. 

“I was in complete disbelief and surprised because only 20% of people in the UK who wants to become a driving instructor will pass this test. It brought a whole load of weight off my shoulders knowing that I done it first time, and it was not an easy journey when I started training for the part 3 test.”

The Herald: Kieran CuthbertKieran Cuthbert (Image: Newsquest)

Kieran admits his success was made the more sweeter given the hurdle he had to overcome in having to source new hearing aids, after his own devices broke the week before the test.

He said: “It means the absolute world to me on a personal level. Words cannot describe how much it means for me, but I do know that this is the start of something big for myself and a great opportunity for me to develop my skills as a driving instructor and as a human being.

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“Everyone knows that learning how to drive is a very difficult thing to deal and cope with, but being Deaf whilst doing it is even more challenging, I had barriers that I had to overcome like my hearing aids breaking the week before the part 3 test and giving new ones which weren’t working well at all, so to go through that on the day of my test and pass, it’s an unbelievable feeling.”

Kieran’s says the motivation behind his desire to become the first Deaf BSL user driving instructor in Scotland was a “very personal” one, and was borne out of frustration at the inability of his partner Erin, who is also a Deaf BSL user, to source a driving instructor after she turned 17. 

And he hopes he can help can “pave the way” for more members of the Deaf community in Scotland to get their licence and with it be able to experience the freedom that driving brings. 

He said: “My partner Erin was looking for a driving instructor the moment she turned 17 and couldn’t find anyone in the area or Glasgow-based to actually teach her. She got in touch with a few but they said the would not be able to take her on due to the language barrier, which again I can completely understand, but to have almost every instructor she contact say the same thing, all you can feel is frustration and anger. 

“Why should there be a barrier for deaf people who want to learn how to drive? Driving gives a lot of freedom to every single human being, and majority of deaf people feel that they may never get to experience this. This is why I wanted to become a fully qualified driving instructor. 

“I want to pave the way for the Deaf community to have access to driving lessons that can be conducted in British Sign Language and give them the comfort and reassurance that they deserve when learning how to drive. I know that I am only one person, but I’ll give it my best shot to get more Deaf people out on lessons and give them lessons in a language that they can communicate in and feel confident about it.”