A new law in Oregon allows deaf/hard of hearing drivers to include their hearing status on their license.
Getting pulled over by law enforcement is a stressful situation to begin with, and for deaf or hard of hearing drivers, not being able to effectively communicate with police officers can be extra challenging. Officers are unable to understand that the person is deaf and recognize their needs or accommodations. This new law , HB2498, is meant to build trust and cooperation between law enforcement and more than one million Oregonians with hearing loss. According to a 2016 West Oregon University survey, more than half of deaf and hard of hearing residents of Oregon had difficulties communicating with the police.
The new indicator is a small icon on the bottom right in the front with “deaf or hard of hearing” written on the back.
The Vermont DMV introduced 4 x 9 placards for deaf drivers in 2020 with communication tips to help deaf drivers communicate with police officers.
All these steps are critical in ensuring communication goes as smoothly as possible. During such tense situations, even slight miscommunication may increase frustrations and lead to escalations that could have been avoided in the first place.
It may also be helpful for both deaf drivers and law enforcement officers to have speech to text apps like Google’s Live Transcribe or Microsoft Translator to make communication easy and smooth between them.