Helping drivers with special needs; placards for deaf and hearing impaired

Placards for the deaf and hard of hearing (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (Angela Ingram) - Getting pulled over by police can be nerve-wracking for anyone, but imagine how much anxiety it causes a person who can't hear.

During a routine traffic stop, most people have no problem understanding and responding to a police officer, but it's different for the deaf and hard of hearing. It's something that Edward Turner has faced in the past. He says it causes him and others who are hearing-impaired anxiety.

"If I can't hear them at all and if they walk up to me with a flashlight and it's nighttime and they shine that light in there, I'm totally lost. I cannot lip read because of the glare."


Turner is president of the Greater Cincinnati Local Chapter of Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Government. He and classmates at the University of Cincinnati teamed up with police to design traffic stop safety placards for the hearing impaired. Officer Richard Longworth is with Cincinnati Police Department's Community Relations Unit and helped design the placards.

"It's bright red. It's split between red and white. We wanted highly contrasting colors that the officer would be able to notice if he shined his light up on to a car," said Officer Longworth.

Drivers display the placard where the officer can easily see it. It explains that the driver has special needs and it also has tips for the driver on how to handle the traffic stop. The placards are necessary because police need to know why a person is not responding to verbal commands.

Longworth explained, "It's going to be seen as some form of passive resistance." "He's going to be giving verbal commands and if they're not responsive to those commands, it's going to raise his stress level even higher."

Turner has passed these out throughout the Tri-State and says this builds bridges between police and the community. The placards are based on a model that is used by police in Washington D.C.

If you would like a placard you can call Officer Richard Longworth at Cincinnati Police Department District One. The number is 513-352-3505. You can also email Edward Turner at turneree@mail.uc.edu.

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