The Communications Division coordinates the Deaf
Awareness Program to promote understanding of unique
issues police may face with persons who are deaf
or hard of hearing and enhance communication in
such encounters. It is the responsibility of
personnel to extend due consideration during these situations.
RECOGNIZING A PERSON WHO IS DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING
A. A person who is deaf or hard of hearing may not
respond appropriately, therefore, appear to be
uncooperative or “under the influence.”
B. The officer in charge at a scene shall try to
determine if someone appearing to be uncooperative
or uncommunicative is deaf or hard of hearing.
If necessary, this may be accomplished by:
1. Writing a message for the person, keeping in
mind that the person’s ability to read may be limited;
2. Using the departmental “Quick Communication Tips”
card (see Attachment 2); and/or
3. Contacting the Communications Division for an
alternate method of effective communication.
The above options do not preclude officers from
calling an interpreting service directly (see Attachment 1).
“QUICK COMMUNICATION TIPS” CARD
All officers shall carry the departmental “Quick
Communication Tips” card, which has symbols and images to
assist in communicating with a person who is deaf or hard of
hearing. The card may also be used to help determine the
most effective means of communication for the person.
PROVIDING EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION FOR PERSONS WHO ARE DEAF OR HARD OF HEARING
A. Officers shall, as soon as practicable, provide
an effective means of communicating with members
of the public, detainees, and arrestees who are
deaf or hard of hearing. When assistance is needed
to secure an effective means of communicating, police
personnel shall contact the Communications Division for assistance.
B. Officers shall use readily available information
to determine how to best communicate with someone
who is deaf or hard of hearing. While situations
may vary, factors to consider are:
1. Whether the person is deaf or hard of hearing;
2. The nature of the situation. For example,
whether it is an emergency, a nonemergency, critical,
routine, formal, or informal, etc.
a. Primary consideration should generally be
given to the person’s request for the most
effective means of communicating and type of
auxiliary aid preferred, unless doing so would
fundamentally alter the nature of the law enforcement
activity in question.
b. The person’s preferred and most effective
means of communication may not be readily
available. In these situations, the most
effective means of communicating should be
provided as soon as practicable. For example,
there may be lag time between when the request
is placed and when an interpreter arrives; and
3. The length, importance, and complexity of
the communication. For example, it could be
a simple encounter, an interrogation, or that
the person’s understanding of the content of
the communication may later be questioned.
AUXILIARY AIDS, ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY, AND AUGMENTATIVE AND ALTERNATE DEVICES
Auxiliary aids to facilitate communication with
persons who are deaf or hard of hearing that are
provided by the department may include:
A. A sign language interpreter who is qualified
by the Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
To be qualified, this person shall be an interpreter
who, via a video remote interpreting service or
an on-site appearance, is able to interpret
effectively, accurately, and impartially, both
receptively and expressively, using any necessary
1. Family members and children are typically not
qualified or appropriate as interpreters other
than in emergency situations.
2. The element using the interpreter service
shall follow guidelines established in Policy
2.34, PURCHASING RULES, when requesting payment
for invoices related to services rendered;
B. Assistive technology, which is an item, piece
of equipment, or system that is used to maintain
or improve communication. Such technology includes
telecommunication devices and relay services.
1. Telecommunication devices include Teletype
and text telephones that allow communication via
typed messages. Teletype and text 911 telephones
are available in the Communications Division.
2. Relay services allow those who are deaf,
hard of hearing, or have a speech disorder
to place a call via an operator service with
standard telephones using a keyboard or other
assistive device. The officer in charge can
contact the Communications Division for assistance
in contacting the service; and
C. Augmentative and alternate communication,
such as picture boards or touch screens, that
display symbols or words.
A. Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing may
use a “service animal.” A service animal is
any dog individually trained to do work or
perform tasks for the benefit of a person with
a disability. Other species of animals, whether
wild or domestic, trained or untrained, are not service animals.
The work or task performed by the “service
animal” must be directly related to the personâ€™s
disability. When it is not obvious what service
the dog provides, the officer may ask only two questions:
1. “Is the dog required because of a disability?”
keeping in mind that the disability itself need
not be disclosed to the officer; and
2. “What work or task has the dog been trained to do?”
Serving as a crime deterrent by its presence or
providing emotional support, a sense of well-being,
comfort, or companionship does not constitute work
or tasks that qualify a dog as a service animal.
B. Officers should not attempt to touch a service
animal as the gesture may interfere with the animal’s
work and/or the handler’s control. Service animals
may react in a negative or protective mode when
touched or when the control of the handler is interrupted.
C. If the service animal must be separated from
its handler, the officer should describe what
action is needed and allow the individual to
direct the animal to stop working or rest as
appropriate. Except in extreme situations (e.g.,
emergencies or eminent danger), officers should
avoid attempting to forcibly separate a service
animal from its handler.
D. The person with the disability is not required
to possess or provide any identification or
certification for the service animal.
E. Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing
shall be permitted to be accompanied by their
service animal in all public areas of police
facilities where members of the public are allowed to go.
F. When a person who is deaf or hard of hearing
is being arrested, the individual should be
permitted to make arrangements for the care of
the service animal prior to transport. If the
arrestee is unable to arrange for the animal’s
care, the officer in charge should make arrangements
for the transport and care of the service animal.
USE OF RESTRAINTS
Consideration should be given to handcuffing
arrestees who are deaf or hard of hearing with
their hands in front to allow hand gesturing or
writing without sacrificing safety to the arrestee, officer, or others.
The training curriculum for recruits shall
include awareness, identification, communication,
and procedures for interacting with persons
who are deaf or hard of hearing as well as
the use of the “Quick Communication Tips” card.