DEAF, Inc. Provides Training to Missouri Police Officers

March 21, 2017


DEAF, Inc — a nonprofit organization in Missouri that provides interpreters and services to Deaf people — just provided training to local police officers to educate them about how to properly interact with Deaf people. 


DEAF, Inc’s Executive Director, Dr. Thomas Horejes and other staff gave a presentation to a room of deputies and commanders. 


[Video clip from local news coverage]


Thomas shared his personal experience with being pulled over by police — with two of them drawing guns at him. He had to gesture that he had a hearing aid — and fortunately the police understood that he was Deaf.


They told the police that lipreading isn’t always effective, that handcuffing Deaf people is a very frightening experience for them, and that some Deaf people have balance issues when it’s dark (and they might appear drunk).


Thomas explained the police on how to call for an interpreter — adding that it is required by the ADA — and that interpreters should be used for serious situations such as domestic violence or arrests, while interpreters were’t usually not needed for normal traffic stops. 


They shared some tips such as not shining a flashlight in a Deaf person’s eyes, looking at the Deaf person while communicating through an interpreter, and that ASL can be very expressive and shouldn’t be taken as threatening. 


Nice! I got in touch with DEAF, Inc to ask them on if they had tips on how other Deaf organizations could do this. Here is their comments: 


[Video clip of Dr. Thomas Horejes talking


THOMAS: I’m so impressed with the meeting — when myself and Devon Whitmore — the Community Advocate — gave a presentation to 150 police officers, we gave typical ADA awareness, cultural sensitivity, that ASL was our primary language — we were impressed with how the local police officers really wanted to work with the Deaf community. They asked a lot of questions and really cared. 


It made me realize that we must continue to provide good training to police departments. This means I encourage you to contact your local police department and ask how you can provide training. Or you could work with a local deaf organization/affiliate in your state and work with them to provide this. This strengthens communication access and police officers really do care about Deaf people. They don’t know how to provide communication access and they want to know how. 


So I encourage you to do this. This experience has really inspired us. We encourage you to do the same.]


ALEX: Thank you, DEAF, Inc for sharing. 


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