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Visual card helps police and deaf drivers communicate better

Police communicating with deaf driver using visual card
Photo: EPS

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) in partnership with Deaf and Hear Alberta have developed a new tool to help police officers and drivers with hearing disabilities communicate more effectively with one another.

“We understand that being stopped by police can be a stressful situation for a motorist, and even more so if there is a communication barrier between you and that officer,” says Const. Trevor Claydon, with EPS Traffic Services.

Const. Claydon discovered that police agencies across North America had similar problems, and some had created information cards to aid with communication.  This prompted the traffic constable to work with Edmonton’s Deaf and hard of hearing community to develop a similar tool to meet the needs of both officers and drivers.

Visual Deaf Communication card The card’s design is simple and straightforward, with common visual symbols and text that can be pointed to by either party to facilitate conversation.

Drivers are encouraged to keep the card in their vehicles where it is easily accessible, preferably on their sun visor or with their vehicle documents.  EPS officers involved in vehicle stops will also carry the card in their police cruiser.

In Canada, people with hearing disabilities are entitled to equal treatment and access to services under the law. The Canadian Hearing Society reports that there are 3.15 million Canadians who are hard of hearing, and 340,000 who are Deaf.

It is a common misconception that Deaf people do not drive.  Driving tests are the same for everyone, and hearing is not a factor for auto insurance.  Numerous studies have recognized that individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing are as safe as drivers who can hear.

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