SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – The Savannah Police Department announced Friday the department is now offering communication cards to people who are deaf or hard of hearing to improve and help facilitate communication with officers.
Officials say interactions between officers and members of these communities may be difficult due to barriers in communication, especially during a traffic stop.
“Sometimes their speech is harder to understand, so a listener has trouble understanding them,” said Dvora Gottlieb, a speech and language pathologist at Savannah Speech and Hearing Center.
The cards help inform the officer on the best way to communicate with the citizen and help inform the citizen of the reason for the traffic stop.
The front side of the card offers ways in which the officer can communicate with the citizen, which may include pen and paper or simply the officer talking slow enough so the individual may read their lips.
It is hard for people who are deaf or hard of hearing to communicate when it is dark or loud, which can easily happen when someone is pulled over.
“People mistake communicating differently with a person’s ability to understand and it’s just not always true,” said Gottlieb.
The back side of the card contains photos and words that indicate the reason for the traffic stop, which includes speeding, seat belt violations, cellphone usage, not stopping at a stop sign and more.
The back of the card also includes a section where the officer can point and indicate that they need the citizen’s driver’s license and registration/insurance information.
It also gives officers the option to show the individual whether they are being warned, ticketed or arrested.
These cards have been distributed to the Traffic Unit to hand out if they encounter a deaf or hard of hearing individual. They are also available to citizens at the front desk of headquarters and at each precinct.
- 201 Habersham Street
- (912) 652-6500 Option #1
- 102 E. Lathrop Avenue
- (912) 651-6990
- 7804 Abercorn Street, Suite 118
- (9120 351-3400
- 2250 E. Victory Drive
- (912) 898-3252
- 1710 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
- (912) 651-6931
Officers suggest putting the card in a visor or center console to make it easy to grab the card during a traffic stop.