WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, interactions with law enforcement can be a challenge. That’s why New Hanover County’s Office of Diversity and Equity has partnered with state and local law enforcement, and Coastal Kia to make things easier for everyone.
On Wednesday, New Hanover County held an event where they showed off new visor cards that local law enforcement officers will use to better communicate with those who are deaf or hard of hearing. The cards are simple and have several pictures on them which law enforcement officers can use to help communicate with drivers, something that has been challenging for both law enforcement and drivers in the past.
With the help of Coastal Kia, which paid for the printing, 1,000 cards are now available for officers to use. The move came a day after Governor Roy Cooper announced September will now be known as Deaf Awareness Month.
“There are 1.2 million individuals with hearing loss in North Carolina with a projected increase to 1.6 million by 2030. The Deaf population includes individuals born profoundly deaf and use American Sign Language (ASL), a fully operating functional language, as a primary means of communication, to those with a range of hearing loss who use hearing aids, assistive listening devices or other forms of amplifications and communication modes,” according to a press release from the Governor.
Of course, having sign language interpreters on staff is something that many agencies would like to have, it’s not something that is readily available at this time; however, it is something that New Hanover County’s Chief Diversity and Equity Officer Linda Thompson said they are working on.
“I do know that there are some who are interested and there are discussions now about law enforcement officers taking courses, introductory courses to learn initial sign language so that they can be able to communicate more extensively.”
The cards were given out on Wednesday afternoon, and law enforcement said they planned on getting them out to their officers immediately.
Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.