Law Enforcement

Deaf Rights – What to Do When Dealing with the Police

Being stopped by the police is difficult for everyone.
If you are deaf, the experience can be worse.

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Marlee Matlin On Deaf And Police Interaction

The ACLU has teamed up with Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf and the wife of a police officer, and advocacy group Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD) on an American Sign Language video to ensure deaf people know their rights when interacting with law enforcement.

 

Driving While Deaf

In January, Pearl Pearson, age 64, says he was attempting to show patrolmen that he was deaf when they pulled him from his car and brutally assaulted him. The district attorney announced that the patrolmen involved wouldn’t be charged on the same day that he charged Pearson—who has two sons who are police officers—with resisting arrest.

Take Action!

When police officers don’t realize deaf and hard of hearing people can’t hear them, it has led to police officers brutally assaulting deaf people and other tragedies. We are calling on the Department of Justice to provide training for police departments on how to interact with deaf and hard of hearing individuals, as obligated under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Take Action

Share your story

The ACLU is working with HEARD to collect stories of law enforcement abuse and discrimination against deaf and hard of hearing people. Fill out this short form to let your voice be heard.

 

Resources for Law Enforcement: How to Communicate with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Communication with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: ADA Guide for Law Enforcement Officers (ADA.gov) Guidelines that all law enforcement officers are required to review and have a working knowledge of.

Guidelines: Model Policy for Law Enforcement on Communicating with People who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (ADA.gov) Guidelines created by the Department of Justice explaining how law enforcement officers must interact with deaf and hard of hearing individuals, as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
First Responder Communication with Deaf and Hard of Hearing Video guidance of how first responders should communicate with deaf and hard of hearing individuals. Created by the Spokane Fire Department.
Best Practices for…Dealing with the Deaf Article in Police Magazine that explains to police officers how to work with the deaf and hard of hearing.
Contacting the Hearing Impaired Article in Police Magazine with five tips for how to communicate with deaf and hard of hearing individuals.

Published on Apr 23, 2014

For more information, go to https://www.aclu.org/deafrights

Actress Marlee Matlin, who is deaf and the wife of a police officer, teamed up with ACLU and advocacy group HEARD, on an American Sign Language video to ensure deaf people know their rights when interacting with law enforcement.

When police officers don’t realize deaf and hard of hearing people can’t hear them, it has led to police officers brutally assaulting deaf people and other tragedies.

While this video aims to ensure that deaf people know their rights, they can only do so much. It is the responsibility of police departments to ensure that their officers are adequately trained.

We are calling on the Department of Justice to conduct trainings with local police departments on how to better interact with the deaf and hard of hearing.

For more information, go to https://www.aclu.org/deafrights