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Police contacts with deaf subjects: Tips and resources to keep everyone safe

 

Federal law requires that law enforcement agencies must provide the communication aids and services needed to communicate effectively with people who are deaf

PoliceOne.com
Nov. 8, 2016
by  Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor at Large

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost one in 10 people in the U.S. could benefit from hearing aids. About two percent of adults aged 45 to 54 have disabling hearing loss. The rate increases to 8.5 percent for adults aged 55 to 64, to 25 percent of those aged 65 to 74, and 50 percent of those who are 75 and older.

Police interactions with deaf subjects are fraught with the possibility that one side or the other — and possibly both — misunderstanding the person in front of them. It is uncommon for law enforcement officers to know American Sign Language, and there is woefully little instruction done in our schools about how individuals — deaf or otherwise — should respond to the lawful commands of police officers.

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