Melissa: The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and the Oklahoma Association of the Deaf (OAD) recently released a joint statement on the recent violent confrontations between the police and Deaf civilians.
Hi, I’m Melissa, president of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD).
I’m Renee, president of the Oklahoma Association of the Deaf (OAD).
Melissa:Both organizations protect and preserve civil rights of Deaf, DeafBlind and hard-of-hearing individuals on state and national levels, respectively.
Magdiel Sanchez, a Deaf man, was at home when the police arrived. He approached them and was shot and killed. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing community here in Oklahoma are devastated, worried, and concerned. This is not the first time that there has been a terrible incident between a deaf person and the police in the state of Oklahoma.
Magdiel Sanchez, a Deaf man, is not the only one and will not be the last unless something is done.
While the NAD and the OAD think the situation is a tragedy, they are taking action to find solutions in order to prevent further “avoidable killings”. They also want to put a stop on a trend where “encounters between deaf people and police officers often lead to unnecessary injury or death because of miscommunication or lack of communication access.”
Recently the OAD met with the Oklahoma City Police Department to demand that these terrible incidents cannot keep happening. The police agreed and want to work with the OAD to prevent further tragedies from happening again with Deaf people.
They say this would require a “system change”. Such a change includes changing the general approach of the police when it comes to using lethal force. They cite a lawsuit in 1978 where the Oklahoma City Police failed to provide effective communication when they arrested deaf individuals and the OAD filed a lawsuit on their behalf. The lawsuit led to formal training for the police on how to ensure effective communication between the police and deaf and hard of hearing people.
The NAD plays a part in this as well.
The NAD has a committee that focuses on public safety, specifically law enforcement. The public safety committee is also devastated by what happened to Magdiel, and are working hard to gather different resources and examining how the law enforcement system can change for the better. The committee is also developing a list of guidelines for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people to use when approached by police. Once the committee finishes gathering resources and developing guidelines, we will share with the public.
Melissa: Input from the community is welcome and should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. NAD President Melissa Draganac-Hawk says that everyone has the right to feel safe.