Getting a driver’s license is a significant milestone in growing up. People eagerly await turning 18 so they can apply for the license. Most of us reading this article are fortunate enough to have a driver’s license. However, there are some differently abled people living among us who face many challenges while applying for one. Here, we have a video featuring a woman from Kerala who has had no arms since birth. She has always dreamt of driving a car herself, and the state government actually helped her achieve this dream. Not only does she drive a car now, but she also obtained a driver’s license.
The woman in question here is 32-year-old Jilumol M Thomas. Originally from the Idukki district, she currently works in Kochi. Jilumol was born without both hands. She always dreamt of driving a car with her feet; however, the existing legal norms did not allow her to do so. When she requested a driver’s license for the first time, the request was denied and challenged on technical grounds. Jilumol currently works at a private firm as a graphic designer and is an artist herself.
Jilumol’s request for the license was denied by the authorities five years ago. But she didn’t stop there. She approached the state commission for persons with disabilities. The commission took note of this case and asked the state transport commissioner to find a solution to this problem. The transport commissioner tasked Motor Vehicle Department officers in Ernakulam district to study this case in detail and come up with a suitable solution.
After studying the matter, MVD officers suggested a number of changes that would need to be made to the car to make it suitable for Jilumol. While the officers suggested necessary changes, there were no local firms available in the region that could make such modifications. The department then included experts from this sector and customized a car within one year. A Kochi-based firm handled all the electronic-related modifications to the 2018 model Celerio hatchback.
The major controls of the car can now be operated using her feet, while minor features can be activated and deactivated using voice recognition. After all these changes were made, the MVD inspected and ensured that it was suitable for Jilumol to drive on public roads. Following the modifications, Jilumol passed the learner’s test in March this year and, in November, she passed the driving test in her Maruti Celerio. The MVD also made changes to the car’s RC, and it is now classified as an Adapted Class vehicle. Jilumol’s six-year struggle to obtain a driving license has finally come to an end.
Kerala MVD often makes headlines for issuing fines for illegal modifications and other reasons. This is one of those cases where we would like to appreciate the department, as they worked as a team to realize a person’s dream of legally driving a car. With Jilumol obtaining a license, we hope to see more people like her come forward and apply for licenses in the future. Jilumol is probably the first person in India to obtain a driving license in this manner. The license was actually handed over to her by the Chief Minister of Kerala himself.