Deaf People Dealing With Police in the Era of Covid-19

“The overall approach of police officers to most situations generally is to perceive anything other than full and immediate compliance with verbal instructions or commands as  intentional noncompliance.” says Howard Rosenblum, the chief executive officer of the National Association of the Deaf. “Such approaches … are not conducive to resolving communication issues with deaf and hard of hearing people.” Rosenblum says deaf people are in a particularly precarious position during the pandemic as a result of officers wearing masks. “The mask covers the police officer’s face, making it impossible to even attempt lip reading,” he says. Since ASL requires understanding facial expressions, those who use the language also struggle when masks cover most of an officer’s faces. Although the Americans With Disabilities Act requires police to provide “effective communication” to people with disabilities, law enforcement often fails to meet that mandate. Currently, over a third of police killings involve people with disabilities. More of this story here.

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