Partnership for Families, Children and Adults will be hosting a town hall meeting between the Chattanooga Police Department and Chattanooga’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community. The town hall will be held Tuesday, May 8, from 6-8 p.m. in the Multi-Purpose Room at Partnership’s Deaf, Deaf-Blind and Hard of Hearing Services Center at Eastgate Towne Center, 5600 Brainerd Road, Suite E-1. The public is invited to attend.
The discussion will revolve around improving communication between law enforcement and the deaf and hard of hearing community. Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the government is required to provide “effective communication”, “reasonable accommodation” and equal access to services for those with disabilities. But even with these mandates, there still lies a gap in cultural understanding between the two groups that has led to strain, miscommunication and even the use of deadly force, said officials. Organizers said they are hopeful that education, training and understanding will take place during this forum.
In anticipation of the event, Chattanooga Police Chief David Roddy said, “Chattanooga police officers help all members of the community. It is my belief that with some dedicated training and time spent learning more about the members of the deaf community, we will better understand and communicate with each other.” Chief Roddy and other officers will be attending the forum.
During the forum, Partnership will roll out the Deaf Driver Card. The purpose of the card is to bridge the initial communications gap between the police and deaf and hard of hearing drivers during traffic stops. The card lets the officer know the driver can’t hear the officer and the card allows the officer to point to images on the card to help the driver understand the purpose for the stop and the ensuing orders. The cards will be distributed for free to the deaf and hard of hearing community.