Have you ever felt frustrated not being able to communicate with a police officer when being pulled over?
The New York Police Department is starting a pilot program to help police better communicate with deaf people!
NYPD officers in select areas will be given tablets to allow them to connect with a remote sign language interpreter, if a live interpreter is not available to handle the call in person.
There are more than 200,000 people who are deaf or hard of hearing across five NYC boroughs. In the past, the NYPD has been charged with lawsuits for failing to properly communicate with deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
We reached out to Sean Gerlis who is the President of the Empire State Association of the Deaf to give details on how this pilot program started.
The Deaf community is very large here in New York City. I feel that it’s very important to implement this pilot program, to reduce the typical miscommunications that we already have more than enough of.
In the future, there will already be on-site interpreters, deaf interpreters, VRI, and a support system that works with the police to serve the deaf community in New York City. That’s the ultimate goal for the deaf community, to have access and to serve what the police officers have to offer to anyone in New York City.
We’re the Deaf Justice Coalition, which is combined of 13 different organizations who have been working very hard with the NYPD for a long time now to get this pilot program going. This is not solely for the police officers, it covers different services as well. This is the first step in working with police officers, handling emergencies, and having communication access for the entire city. We hope this will make a huge impact on the rest of the state, and all over the country as well. Our most important goal is to have communication equality. For the deaf and hearing to have equal access to communication.
The pilot program will start this monday, April 24th and last for 12 weeks. We hope to see this become successful and spread to other states across the country. For more information, check out Empire State Association for the Deaf at www.esad.org.