Wolcott police improve communication with deaf drivers through deaf signage program

WOLCOTT – More times than we think, police officers pull over drivers that are deaf and this typically leads to a miscommunication between the two.

To put a stop to this locally, the Wolcott Police Department have implemented the Deaf Signage Program that is supposed to help with that. All drivers have to do is put their license, registration and proof of insurance into a bright, green envelope.

Everytime a driver is pulled over, they are asked to hand over their registration and license, but for someone that is deaf, the officer has to communicate in a different way.

“A lot of times, there’s problems with communication whether it’s a language barrier or someone just cannot hear you,” said Chief Edward Stephens of the Wolcott Police Department.

Just two weeks ago, Wolcott Police put the green envelopes as soon as you walk into their building. On it, are instructions for the driver and officer with the proper protocol on how to communicate.

“Right on the back, it tells them to stand facing the driver where their mouth and lips can be seen, speak directly to the driver and not turn your head while you’re talking,” added Chief Stephens.

While the chief said he personally has not pulled over that many deaf drivers, he knows it does happen. The green envelopes let officers know they are deaf instead of assuming the driver is not cooperating with them.

“The officer might think the person’s not listening and the person really doesn’t hear what the person is saying,” added Chief Stephens.

Next to the envelopes are forms people can fill out where they can list their basic contact information and the type of special needs they have.

This form can also be given to the officer if that driver gets pulled over.

As a friendly reminder, police said to never put your materials in the envelope on your car dashboard and instead, to store it in your glove compartment.