Columbus Police worked on the placard with the local nonprofit Deaf World Against Violence Everywhere (DWAVE). It has two sides: one for the driver to indicate their preferred communication style, and one for law enforcement to request documentation and indicate the violation.
In a survey of Central Ohio’s deaf community, about 90% said they experienced bad interactions with law enforcement, according to Rose Larson of DWAVE.
“When you’re interacting with law enforcement, those sorts of misunderstandings lead to huge disastrous outcomes for us,” Larson signs through an interpreter. “We’ve had people who were trying to get help and they were arrested and put in jail.” She says the placards are not meant for complicated conversations or to replace an interpretter.
“These are for being pulled over, traffic stops, very simple communications where you can just point to the card,” she says.
The placards include symbols, like a gas pump or a hospital sign, so motorists can ask for help. According to DWAVE, people report the cards are already helping make communication smoother.