Safety rules say that truck drivers must be able to adequately read and speak English, but that does not mean that hearing-impaired drivers who do not speak are barred from driving, said the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In a guidance published in the October 1 Federal Register, the agency said it has heard from the National Association of the Deaf that some state licensing officials have told drivers who do not speak that they do not meet the English requirement.

The agency will exempt a hearing-impaired driver from its standards provided he can safely do the work. If an exempted driver cannot speak, but can read and write in English, he is qualified to drive, the agency said.

“This guidance us intended to address the perceived conflict between the exemptions and the manner in which FMCSA regulations are being applied to hearing impaired drivers,” the agency said.