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Driving Change

Deaf Activist Raghav Bir Joshi Speaks Out for Deaf Drivers

While the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) prohibits discrimination based on disability, Deaf individuals can’t get a driver’s license in Nepal. While nearly 100 other countries allow Deaf people to drive with a license or permit, Nepal’s Vehicles and Traffic Management Act excludes them based on their inability to hear certain auditory signals. Deaf advocates like Raghav Bir Joshi are working to change that, arguing that frequent use of rearview mirrors helps keep them safe on the road. Joshi’s commitment to this cause is personal. As a student, he once took his father’s motorbike without permission, driven by his father’s skepticism about his son’s potential to drive due to his deafness. This act of familial rebellion sparked Joshi’s broader advocacy efforts. He has since been deeply involved with the Deaf community, advocating for their right to drive, including filing a complaint with the Supreme Court. Despite high turnover in government positions hindering progress, Joshi remains determined. “We still face many challenges,” he says, “but we are hopeful that we will eventually succeed.”

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Photo of Bishwamitra Bhitrakoti.

Filmmaker: Bishwamitra Bhitrakoti

Bishwamitra Bhitrakoti is a Deaf youth from Annapurna Rural Municipality, Kaski, Nepal. Born into a Dalit community, he has challenged casteism as part of his advocacy work. He holds a diploma in animal science and is currently pursuing a B.A. in sociology and psychology. As a communications officer at the National Federation of the Deaf, Nepal, Bhitrakoti focuses on strategic communication planning, fostering media relations, and creating universally designed content. 

An advocate for disability rights, Bhitrakoti engages with youth groups and organizations as the president of the Annapurna Deaf Association and a member of the National Federation of the Disabled Nepal in the Gandaki province. Over the last seven years, Bhitrakoti has trained youth with disabilities in Nepali Sign Language, human rights, sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), mental health, and political rights. Bhitrakoti is passionate about traveling and exploring new destinations.

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