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New legislation in the USA to protect Deaf or hard of hearing drivers

Bill passed in Assembly to allow Deaf or hard of hearing people to register so that police authorities will be aware

Friday 2 June
New legislation in the USA to protect Deaf or hard of hearing drivers

Editor - June 02 at 07:00

Deaf people who get pulled over by police in the USA would no longer have to fear mis-communications with officers if a bill passed by the Assembly eventually becomes law. Assembly Bill 381 allows people to voluntarily notify the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of their hearing restrictions. Then, when police run their license plates, officers would be alerted to the situation. The bill, introduced by Assemblyman Ian Calderon, D-Whittier, was passed by the Assembly in a 76-0 vote Tuesday. The measure now heads to the Senate. “The deaf or hard of hearing community deserves the peace of mind that comes with knowing that the police officer that’s pulling you over isn’t going to rely on verbal commands and potentially let a routine traffic stop escalate because the driver is unable to heed those commands,” Calderon said in a statement. People with hearing restrictions often rely on notepads they carry in their shirt pockets or glove compartments to communicate with police, said Thompson, who is deaf. They’ll signal to their ear to let police know they can’t hear, she added. “They try to help the officer to know that they’re only getting the notepad, but that’s very hard to communicate,” Thompson said. “The policeman will assume the wrong idea and there’s consequences.” Thompson said she’s been following news of this bill, adding that the voluntary aspect of this proposed measure brings peace of mind. “If you have to register to the DMV to get that, it’s almost like a Big Brother watching me kind of feeling I get,” said Thompson. “Some people really prefer to keep their life private.” Additionally, the bill prohibits the Department of Motor Vehicles from indicating a driver is deaf or hard of hearing on the driver’s license, certificate of ownership, registration card, or license plate. Ultimately, Thompson said it would help if police learned to fingerspell, which involves spelling out words by using signs that correspond to the letters of the word. “I wish they would do that,” she said. “It would make it much better for deaf people and people who are hard of hearing.” Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback sees the benefits of this measure if the information can get to officers fast enough while they are conducting traffic stops. “I don’t know if it would make things easier just because (when) an officer makes a traffic stop, most of the time they’re going to give the license plate to dispatch,” Railsback said. A lot depends on where that information would appear, he said. “Anything that would alert our officers to who they may be contacting is always going to be helpful,” he added. Calderon noted that officers have a difficult job. “Routine traffic stops can turn out to be anything but routine,” he said in the statement. “The more information officers have before approaching a vehicle, the better they can protect and serve as intended.”
Source:The Press Enterprise

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