Deaf and hard-of-hearing drivers can now identify to police

Oregon

The indicator is voluntary, and people can sign up any time

Starting Jan. 3, Oregonians can add an indicator that they are deaf or hard of hearing to their vehicle registration, driver license, permit or ID card.

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — For those hard-of-hearing, a new service available through the DMV can ease anxiety while being pulled over by police.

Starting Jan. 3, Oregonians can add an indicator that they are deaf or hard-of-hearing to their vehicle registration, driver license, permit or ID card. According to the Oregon Department of Transportation, the option places an indicator on a person’s record, allowing Oregon officers to see the indicator from their patrol vehicles when they run the license plate or license number.

The indicator is voluntary, and people can sign up any time.

“The worry: The officer approaches the car, the driver doesn’t respond to commands, and the situation escalates,” said ODOT. “That’s one reason many states, including Oregon, are setting up ways to alert law enforcement that a driver is deaf or hard of hearing – before an officer approaches the driver.”

Bridges Oregon, a nonprofit organization serving Oregonians who are Deaf, DeafBlind, Hard-of-Hearing or face other communication barriers, called this new service a “significant milestone to build trust and cooperation.”

“It will foster a better understanding of communication needs while protecting and facilitating a strong relationship with law enforcement officers,” said Chad A. Ludwig, the executive director of Bridges Oregon.

Ludwig told ODOT that over half (51.7%) of deaf and hard-of-hearing Oregon residents had difficulties communicating with police, according to a survey by Denise Thew Hackett, a Ph.D. at Western Oregon University. WOU published the survey results in a community-based needs assessment of Oregon’s deaf and hard of hearing communities in 2016.

This new DMV service is part of ODOT’s commitment to transportation safety and a direct benefit of new technology investments that have accelerated DMV’s ability to launch new services and better serve Oregonians.

Those wanting to register for the service can do so here.

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