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Police Interactions and Hearing Loss

Police Interactions and Hearing Loss

By: Audiologist, Angie Lederman, MS, CCC-A

May 15, 2022 through May 21, 2022 is National Police Week. This is a great time to discuss law enforcement encounters and interactions when you have a hearing loss. We recognize that interacting with law enforcement can be difficult at times. Having a hearing loss can make the encounter even more challenging. If you are living with a hearing loss, you probably already know how frequent miscommunication occurs. Hearing loss makes it more likely that you will not understand what is happening and you will respond inappropriately. Keep in mind that police are trained to handle dangerous situations and are prepared for the worst. It can be scary, but if you are prepared to calmly communicate your needs with the law enforcement officer, you can increase the chances of a positive interaction.

Many police officers will not immediately recognize that you are deaf or have a hearing loss. The best thing you can do is tell them. Be prepared by carrying a card in your wallet at all times that explains your hearing loss. Show the law enforcement officer this card at the first available opportunity. This will allow them the opportunity to make the best communication choices they can. If you communicate best through written communication, carry a small pad of paper and a pen. Try your best to confirm understanding with the police officer every step of the way.

A common time to interact with the police is while you are driving. Be a good driver and always wear your hearing aids to increase your situational awareness. Hearing aids come with many features that make it easier to listen while in a vehicle. This will also lessen the chances of getting pulled over and having a difficult police interaction.

It is your responsibility to know your rights and advocate for them. People with a hearing loss have the same rights as a normal hearing person. You have the right to easy communication. Do not let a miscommunication turn the encounter into a dangerous situation. You have the right to an assistive listening device, real time captioning, or ASL translator. You have the right to understand everything being said to you and make sure you fully understand any documents before you sign them. Take notes and include as many details you can for your own record.

Our office, Hear Now, provides Law Enforcement Communication cards we give our patients to carry with them to be prepared in case of a communication difficulty. It provides communication tips, pictures for law enforcement to point to, and how to find interpreters. Taking care of your hearing health increases communication and makes you safer. Contact us today to schedule a hearing consultation.

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