A Braintree resident participated in what Training Wheels owner Rick Sigel believes is the first motorcycle rider course for deaf riders over the weekend.
Erin Barre was one of 10 participants in the two-day course at Fuller Middle School in Framingham on June 8 and 9.
In 13 years of owning the motorcycle training company, Sigel has gone from three instructors to 40 instructors in eight locations across Massachusetts. The company has taught 20,000 new riders the rules of motorcycling.
Training Wheels has an agreement with the Registry of Motor Vehicles that if a rider completes the 15 hour course (five hours of classroom work and 10 hours riding), they will receive their motorcycle license in the mail.
The company has taught deaf students before, but Sigel said it was always a scramble to find an interpreter willing to help.
"When a deaf student calls, there's nothing we can do for them," said Sigel.
That is until now. Sigel now plans to offer a formal course for the hearing impaired three times a year now that the protocols are in place.
Last winter, Sigel met interpreter Jessica Winiecki. Prior to the weekend course, Winiecki worked with three motorcycle instructors to familiarize herself with the terms and discuss the class.
Going into the weekend, Sigel wasn't concerned about the number of students being able to understand instructor instructions.
"Whether it's one person or 10, trying to translate words like 'throttle' and other motorcycle terms is difficult," said Sigel, adding even hearing people need time to learn the motorcycle specific jargon.
Even before they arrived in Framingham, Sigel used an interpreter to speak with each student over the phone. Sigel reported that his conversations went the same as with any other students; the riders had the same questions and concerns.
Learn more about Training Wheels at trainingwheelsonline.com.