CINCINNATI — Being pulled over by the police can be nerve-wracking and that can be a bigger issue when you have a hearing impairment and don’t understand what is being said.
A new project is helping improve communication between law enforcement and those who are deaf.
Driving with hearing issues has come with its set of challenges for Elizabeth Whelpdale. She said traffic stops are a concern.
“The police may automatically assume that we are drunk maybe because some of us have balance issues or they may think we’re playing games with them,” said Whelpdale.
While sign language training for law enforcement and local communication cards have temporarily helped bridge the communication gap, Whelpdale said more needed to be done.
With the help of the Hearing Speech and Deaf Center, the Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities, and other organizations, they came up with a better idea.
“We worked together to create a card that was more recognizable and create awareness around the whole state of Ohio,” she said.
In May the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Traffic Safety and Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities rolled out the new state-wide card.
When pulled over, drivers can use the QR Code to help them locate the nearest interpreter. There are symbols on it to help law enforcement and the driver communicate better during the stop.
“They can point on this card to say oh you ran through a stop sign or you were speeding or you have a light that is broken,” Whelpdale said.
Hearing Speech and Deaf Center CEO J.B Boothe has been working alongside Whelpdale throughout the project. Whelpdale said she’s glad to see this idea come to fruition and hopefully help others in need.
“This is a good step to help minimize frustrations to help people communicate,” she said. “I just feel like it’s nice to have something that is very inclusive.”
For more information about the cards, click here.