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

Read more . . . Police



Washington Post - Local

October 11

WASHINGTON — Police departments across the country have recently put extra emphasis on their community policing efforts, working to improve relations with the black community and other minority groups.

In the same way, in Washington, a special Metropolitan Police Department unit has been working for more than a decade to build trust with another local community.

The Metropolitan Police Department’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit is the only such unit in the country. The unit’s two officers — Myra Jordan and Tayna Ellis — both learned sign language outside MPD.

“We are on call 24 hours, seven days a week,” said Ellis.

“And it’s not work to us because it’s something we truly, truly enjoy doing,” Jordan said.

Jordan helped create the unit nearly 15 years ago. Since then, it’s become a major resource for the local deaf community.

Last year alone, the unit responded to more than 300 calls for service.

Shayninna McCoy, a specialist with the local advocacy group Deaf Reach, said, “The deaf community feels confident that their communication will be understood by the police.”

The Washington region is said to be home to the highest concentration of deaf people in the world. Many attend Gallaudet University then stay here for their careers.

Read more  . . . Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit 

Read More  . . . MPDC Related Links:

Deaf & Hard Of Hearing Liaison Unit

Meet Officers Ellis and Jordan MPDS

Communication Rights Deaf or Hard of Hearing

PDF Brochure Download -

NBC4 TV coverage Oct. 7th
NBC 4 Story & un-captioned Video




The communication card is designed to be stored on a sun visor, in a bag or backpack, or on a passenger seat for easy use. To download the card, visit (Image provided by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights)

C&G Newspapers - METRO DETROIT
Posted June 22, 2016

METRO DETROIT — The Michigan Department of Civil Rights has released a new communication tool that will ease communication between law enforcement and individuals who are deaf or have partial hearing loss.

Supported by statewide law enforcement organizations — including the Michigan State Police, the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association and the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police — the communication card is designed to be stored on a sun visor, in a bag or backpack, or on a passenger seat for easy use.

One side of the card notifies law enforcement that the person is either deaf or has partial hearing loss. It offers quick tips to facilitate communication, including, but not limited to, “Get my attention first,” “Make eye contact when you speak,” and “I cannot lip-read everything you say.”

Read more . . . Cards





The Rhode Island branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, along with the Rhode Island Disability Law Center, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Woonsocket Police Department for the arrest of a deaf man.

They claim 25-year-old David Alves of North Smithfield was apprehended and detained for making an obscene sign language gesture.

On July 8 of last year, Alves, who is deaf, was at the City Side Club in Woonsocket with friends, including some who are also deaf or hard of hearing. He had just returned home from summer break at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

Read more  . . . arrested  . . . See Captioned Video



FEB 2, 2016

For many people, interactions with law enforcement can be stressful. But for people who have difficulty communicating, these interactions can lead to grave misunderstandings. Some lawmakers are trying to make those interactions safer.

You’re driving down the road, maybe a hair over the speed limit, when you hear those sirens. It’s the cops. We all know that sinking feeling. But imagine if you can’t hear those sirens. For the deaf and hard of hearing, miscommunication with the police is a real concern. But some state lawmakers are trying to fix that. Representative Victor Torres of Orlando wants to mark driver’s licenses with a symbol signifying the driver is deaf.

“This symbol on the license will alert the officer to the fact that the driver is hard of hearing or deaf, and assist them when identifying how best to communicate with the driver,” he said.

Read more . . . 'Driving While Deaf'


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Four letters, scrawled in the dust of an NYPD patrol car, became a terrified woman’s only hope of survival: H-O-S-P.

Diana Williams, a deaf New Yorker who’s also unable to speak, traced the cryptic message with her index finger after contorting her body so her cuffed hands reached the side of the car.

“Hospital,” she then mouthed as tears spilled in soundless sobs. “Help. Help. Please. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.”

When a police officer nodded that he understood, she cried even harder — with relief. But the deaf woman’s ordeal was far from over.

Williams, 48, says she was an upbeat, confident woman before her still-stunning arrest after calling the police for help on Sept. 11, 2011. Now she’s in the third year of a bitter legal fight with the NYPD, still racked by the lingering terror from her 24 hours in police custody. “I have never been so terrified in my life,” Williams told the Daily News, through an interpreter.

Read article and .... watch signed video

WMAU - NPR - Washington, DC
Kojo Nnamdi Show

Streamed live on Mar 30, 2015

From police stops to medical emergencies, members of the Deaf community often confront significant language barriers when they interact with local government and institutions. In Arlington County, a deaf man alleges he was held for six weeks in a county jail without access to an interpreter. But beyond cases of alleged discrimination, members of the Deaf community say there are deeper problems of cultural misunderstanding and unqualified interpreters. We explore the rights and responsibilities of the Deaf and hearing communities during these vital encounters.


Caroline Jackson Staff Attorney, National Association of the Deaf Law and Advocacy Center
Steven Collins Assistant Professor, Department of Interpretation, Gallaudet University; Certified Deaf Interpreter
Adam Bartley Interpreter, Gallaudet Interpreting Service
Ellen Schein Interpreter, Gallaudet Interpreting Service

Watch YouTube Captioned Video

(There is a two minute break half way through video)



Wednesday, March 18, 2015


The NYPD finally listened to its officers Monday and agreed to reform a policy banning cops from wearing hearing aids.

The change is the result of a settlement reached in Manhattan Federal Court between the city and attorneys for hearing-impaired NYPD cops forced into retirement by the rule.

Disability Rights Advocate lawyer Rebecca Rodgers estimated “several hundred” cops would benefit from the agreement, though the actual number is unclear because many are likely deterred from coming forward due to the policy, she said.

“Cops did not want to disclose that they used hearing aids because they did not want to lose their jobs,” Rodgers said.

Read More  . . . . Police - hearing aids

Related Article - NY Post -  By Rich Calder - March 17, 2015




By Katie Hetrick
Press & Guide Newspapers
Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Five deaf students and their teacher and interpreter talked to the Dearborn Public School board on Monday about their efforts to support the national Signing for Safety program.

Dearborn High teacher Lori Baker said she tries to find relevant news articles her deaf and hard-of-hearing students can study in class and this year they read about a case in California where police used a Taser on a deaf man when he failed to respond to their verbal commands. Students then did research and found at least four other cases where police had assaulted innocent deaf people because they did not realize the people were deaf, Baker said.

Students’ research also led them to the Signing for Safety program. American sign language instructor Colleen Langdon works with local police departments to train them how to recognize a deaf person, basic sign language, a bit about deaf culture, and the implications of the Americans with Disabilities Act for police dealing with deaf people.

Read More  . . . MI deaf students



News Works
JANUARY 8, 2015

City officials in Philadelphia have met with members of the deaf and hard-of-hearing community to talk about making sure those who have hearing issues will be treated properly by police.

Speaking through an interpreter, the executive director of the Deaf Hearing Communication Center said Philadelphia police do well on this issue, but could do better.

"In Washington, D.C., they have a unit with a specific focus on deaf and hard-of-hearing issues," said Neil McDevitt. "For example, someone is arrested who is deaf or hard of hearing, or maybe they are a victim of a crime, that unit will be part of the process to get favorable outcomes."

Philadelphia police are able to call for an interpreter when they encounter someone with a hearing issue, but Capt. Mike Weaver, who handles community relations and victim services, said that can take time.

Police are eager to expand the rudimentary training they get now, Weaver said.

Original Source 



Oklahoma’s Own , NEWS ON 6
Oct 14, 2014

TULSA, Oklahoma - A town hall meeting Tuesday night focused on taking the fear out of a scary situation. Neither police nor citizens know exactly what to expect when someone's pulled over, but that anxiety is compounded when a driver is deaf or hard of hearing. The issue came into stark focus after a deaf man was shot and killed last month in Florida, when he didn't respond to deputies telling him to drop his gun. While Florida may seem far from here, it hits close to home for the deaf and hard of hearing in Oklahoma. A traffic stop is a situation no one ever wants to be in, but it happens. A reenactment shows a traffic stop from an officer's perspective, but also gives the driver's point of view. In this case, the man behind to wheel is deaf. It's a situation Papa Rodgers Cameron said he knows all-too-well. “I get stopped a lot. I travel an awful lot on a motorcycle,” he said. Cameron speaks well, but he can't hear. “I'm very, very, difficult to communicate with,” he said. Communication was the focus of a town hall meeting for the deaf and hard of hearing Tuesday night; whether it's during a traffic stop, fire or 911 call.

Not all deaf people speak or read lips, but almost all communicate with their hands.

Read more of this article  . . .

10/14/2014 Related Story: Traffic Stops For Hearing Impaired Drivers: Practical Tips For Public Safety




L.E. officers encounter various noises that can affect their ability to hear later in their careers.

CREATED: JUNE 26, 2014

In the field and in training, law enforcement officers encounter various noises that can affect their ability to hear later in their careers, and for the rest of their lives.

Diane Nens, an audiologist with hi HealthInnovations spoke to about ways officers can spot the warning signs and prevent and treat hearing loss.

Listen to the Podcast

According to Nens, 10 million Americans have suffered noise-induced hearing loss and another 30 million are exposed to dangerous levels every day.

"Police officers are exposed to noise on a daily basis," she said. "They are exposed to gunfire and they are exposed to a lot of noise even through their radios systems and traffic."

With hearing being a necessary tool for officers, Nens stressed the importance of maintaining their hearing levels and finding ways to prevent hearing loss.

"It's critical that the police officers are hearing well because they have to be able to understand speech, localize where sounds are coming from and be able to respond appropriately to both speech as well as environmental sounds," she said.

Read more . . . 

Being stopped by the police is difficult for everyone.
If you are deaf or hard of hearing, the experience can be worse.aclu

Marlee Matlin On Deaf And Police Interaction

The ACLU has teamed up with Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf and the wife of a police officer, and advocacy group Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD) on an American Sign Language video to ensure deaf people know their rights when interacting with law enforcement.


Created: 12/13/2013 10:52 AM
By: Chris Ramirez, KOB Eyewitness News 4

A deaf woman claims an Albuquerque officer tackled her to the ground because she couldn't hear his commands.

Janet Case is completely deaf in one ear and has limited hearing in the other. APD officers were called to her apartment complex because of a dispute between Case and her landlord.

In APD's lapel camera video of the incident, the situation seems to get out of hand when an officer tells Case to come outside. The officer asks Case to turn around, but she says no and tells him she's deaf. The officer then tells Case to get on the ground and she responds "no" again.

That's when the officer takes Case to the ground and begins to handcuff her. The officer tells her, "You've heard everything I said and you've told me 'no' every time I talked to you." Case then responds, "No, I'm deaf."

"That officer was just annoyed that she wouldn't talk to him or couldn't hear him," said Theresa Hacsi, Case's attorney. "It was humiliating for her. It didn't only escalate to her getting tackled on the ground and handcuffed and taken to jail, she got lectured several times like a child."

...continue reading "Deaf Woman’s Lawsuit Claims Policeman Tackled Her"