When driving instructor Paula Carr talks about hand signals, she doesn’t mean the sort of rude gestures you sometimes get on the roads.
The 46-year-old is qualified in British Sign Language – and all three deaf pupils she’s taught since taking up the hobby have passed their test first time.
Paula, who runs Swift School of Motoring in Droylsden, says being profoundly deaf is no barrier to being a good driver.
She said: “I’ve found that the other senses of deaf people are far more alert. Their powers of observation are fabulous and it seems they can feel through the pedals. It’s wonderful.
“It’s really no more difficult than teaching a person who isn’t deaf to drive. If the car is in motion, I stretch my arms and hands in front of me so they see what I am signing.
“If I want to teach new topics, like how to go around a roundabout or do a three-point turn, we park up and discuss it, using sign language to get the information across before we set off again, so they know what they have to do. It’s all so safe.
“It was pure coincidence when my first deaf person asked me to teach him to drive and he passed first time. Two more have passed in the past two years.”
It has taken Paula four years to be awarded a level six NVQ diploma in sign language.
She added: “I started because it was something I’d always wanted to do and it became something of a hobby. It was difficult at first but I managed to do to level one, loved it and it all went from there.”
Paula, who lives in Peakdale Road, Droylsden, with husband Darren, 44, set up her driving school 20 years ago after previously working in catering. She said: “I just wanted a new challenge, needed a change and have never looked back.”