Police get aid to communicate with deaf drivers
ADA, Okla. (KTEN) — The Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services is distributing free laminated cards designed to improve communication between officers and drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The police communication cards offer tips and guidance for patrol officers.
"As soon as the windows roll down, they can take the card and point it to the police officer, and the officer will see that and have an understanding that the driver is deaf or hard of hearing," explained Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program manager David Hankinson. "Then the police officer can use it to help reduce the anxiety that the deaf driver may encounter."
Drivers can point to pictures, letting the officer know the best way to communicate with them.
Officers can use pictures to let the motorist know the reason they were pulled over or that they need to see their driver's license.
"The officer can use it by saying, I caught you for speeding, a failure to stop, an expired license, or whatever the situation happens," Hankinson said. "The police officer will pull up, of course, behind them, and then the deaf driver can say, I'm needing help' — whether that be going to the hospital or 'My vehicle broke down.'"
Drivers are encouraged to keep the cards in their visors so they can quickly identify themselves to law enforcement.
"This, I believe, will break down communication barriers for the police officer and the deaf driver," Hankinson said. "You would be amazed at the amount of communication that can come across with this card and reduce the stress that can happen with our deaf drivers."
Ada Police Chief Carl Allen believes the communication cards will be helpful for officers to have while on patrol.
"This card is an awesome tool for the officers to have, and in fact, we are probably going to put them out today," Allen explained. "It will allow us to communicate in a less stressful way than what could potentially happen if the officer misinterprets some of the actions."
Oklahoma drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing may get free police communication cards by emailing Services to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing staff at [email protected] or using voice or video phone at 405-543-2646. The cards are also available in SDHH offices in Oklahoma City at 5005 North Lincoln Boulevard, Suite 205; and in Tulsa at 8740 East 11th Street, Suite F.