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2 Colo. Agencies Settle Deaf-Subject Complaints with DOJ

March 21, 2013  | 

Pictogram courtesy of DOJ.
Pictogram courtesy of DOJ.

The Arapahoe (Colo.) County Sheriff's Office and Englewood Police Department agreed to better accommodate deaf subjects to settle legal action brought by the Department of Justice.

The DOJ had been investigating the agencies for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by failing to provide qualified sign language interpreters and other auxiliary aids and services. The Colorado Association of the Deaf and the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition had submitted complaints.

Under terms of the settlement, the agencies agreed to use a pictogram to ask whether a deaf or hard of hearing person requests a sign language interpreter. If the person expresses a need for an interpreter, the agencies will provide one with an hour of the request.

Each agency will also pay $35,000 to private plaintiffs, train staff on the ADA, appoint ADA coordinators, post signs, provide text and volume-control telephones, modify handcuffing policies for people who use sign language, and provide hearing aid and cochlear implant processor batteries in the detention facility.

Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

Ima Leprechaun @ 3/22/2013 8:37 AM

Back in the day, when I was on patrol and I was the only Officer on duty for our entire city at night. I have had to arrest deaf people for a variety of crimes. I have found that writing out questions during my initial contact with someone I believed to be deaf worked pretty well. To speak sign langauge that person has to know how to read and write. During an initial contact I have used hand writing to communicate with deaf suspects and hand drawn pictures to communicate with foreign language suspects that spoke no English. Once at headquarters where I can control my environment and safety we had other agencies we could contact for the 24/7 use of a sign language interpreter or foreign language interpreter. I never had problems with any case as long as I used a qualifed interpreter once I was in a setting where one could be used safely. It would be impossible for every officer to know every kind of sign language or foreign language that might come up while at work but the law does allow for a reasonable accomodation when conditions permit. I have in the past stopped foreign language drivers and used their english speaking children to interpret my actions. One such time, I remember I used a ten year old boy passenger as an interpreter just to tell his father (the driver) that he was dragging his muffler. I just wanted to tell the driver of the reason I stopped him and that he was not in any trouble. Sometimes we just have to think a second to use what may be avaible to us at the time to overcome the problem.

Glenna Chance @ 4/6/2013 12:54 PM

There are many other disabled groups under the protection of the ADA besides the deaf community. My agency, MCS and my accommodations and access accreditation agency, NAAMAASC, handle ADA protections for those disabled with MCS - multiple chemical sensitivity. In chapter 8 of my 2011 book, Which Poison Will Change Your Life, and in the MCS Web site, I specifically describe a traffic stop protocol which the Rochester, NY RPD agreed to include in their police training in 2001. The MCS driver cannot roll down the car window and unless the police agencies train their officers how to recognize and handle an MCS traffic stop (and also emergency situations since the MCS medical protocol is also specific), departments and cities are letting themselves in for lawsuits including wrongful death suits and USDOJ and other government actions. I am available for inquiries about and training for MCS as it relates to ADA and human rights law.

Glenna Chance, Director,; NAAMAASC; author, Which Poison Will Change Your Life.

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