Special to 1812Blockhouse

On Friday, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Traffic Safety Office (OTSO), Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD), and statewide law enforcement partners have developed a new communication card to help individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing exchange information with law enforcement.

The new card, which can be downloaded onto a phone or printed and stored inside a vehicle, wallet, or purse, includes various pictures that deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals can point to in order to help them more easily communicate during interactions with law enforcement.

“Removing barriers for Ohioans with disabilities is crucial for helping them live self-determined, independent lives,” said Governor DeWine. “This new communication tool will improve safety for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community as well as law enforcement officers across the state.”

The communication card also displays icons of common violations and provides tips for law enforcement to help officers effectively communicate with those who are hard of hearing or deaf.

“Approximately 303,000 Ohioans are deaf or hard of hearing,” said Kevin Miller, OOD Director. “We appreciate our partners from the Community Centers for the Deaf, Deaf World Against Violence Everywhere, and the Coalition for Deaf Access and Equity for collaborating on this practical solution to help bridge communication gaps and improve understanding.”

The Buckeye State Sheriffs Association, Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, and Ohio State Highway Patrol also participated in the development of the card.

“We believe that communication between law enforcement and all citizens is important,” said Tom Stickrath, Director of the Ohio Department of Public Safety. “OTSO will also print and distribute copies of the card to Ohio law enforcement agencies across the state so that they can have a copy to carry with them.”

In 2019, Governor DeWine signed Executive Order 2019-03D, which established Ohio as a Disability Inclusion State and Model Employer of Individuals with Disabilities.

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