Options for communicating with people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Improving Communication

By Nicholas Goodman, Network Engagement Specialist

Options for communicating with people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Are you Deaf or Hard of Hearing? Do you know someone who is? A great tool for drivers was recently printed by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). Whether it’s a routine traffic stop or an emergency, being able to communicate with Law Enforcement Officers is vital.

The visor card from MDCR has a simple layout with icons for the most common needs when interacting with law enforcement. An officer can choose from icons such as a driver’s license or stop sign to get their point across. The person who owns the card can indicate they need help by pointing to the symbol for hospital or gas station, for example. Through the card, an officer can also be informed of a person’s preferred method of communication, such as writing, an Assistive Listening Device, or an interpreter.

Some members of law enforcement may not have experience working with people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing, and the card also lists some reminders to increase understanding and communication. When speaking with a person who is Deaf or Hard of Hearing, it is important to remember that lip reading is not a universal skill, and it may not the best way to be understood. Many people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing consider a Sign Language Interpreter to be their preferred method of communication. In the State of Michigan, Sign Language Interpreters must have certification to work and MDCR maintains an online directory to look up individuals and their credentials.

According to MDCR, the card is designed to be printed on standard 8.5” by 11” paper and folded in half. If self-printing isn’t feasible, a card can also be requested from the Division on Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing (DODDBHH) by emailing doddbhh@michigan.gov or by calling 313-437-7035.

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