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New cards unveiled to help deaf/hard of hearing residents communicate with police

Revised communication cards are now available to help Delawareans who are deaf or hard-of-hearing communicate with law enforcement.

The State Office for Equality for Deaf and Hard of Hearing created the cards in 2009 in conjunction with the State Police Chiefs Council so police officers would know card-holders had communication needs.

But the cards were - for the most part - language-based and in English.

“During the past few years, we’ve started to notice that there was a lot of news about deaf people interacting with police officers and not having a very successful interaction," said Gail Garner, a steering committee member for Deaf Outreach. "So we started looking at what we could do in Delaware. And we looked at our communication card and we decided it was not really something that would facilitate communication.”

Garner says the nonprofit worked with local law enforcement, the deaf and hard-of-hearing community and various agencies to redesign cards.

Instead of words, Garner says they now use icons and pictures so that police officers and deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals can just point to the card to communicate.

“We traded words for icons and pictures so that we could actually point out what was needed on the card and the officer could communicate with the resident in a traffic stop or in a situation," said Garner. "There are actually two versions. The first version is about 5X7 and it’s a visor card, so it just fits in the visor in your car.” 

Garner ays the second version is wallet size and is popular with bicyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists.

And every active police officer statewide now carries one of these cards. 


Deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals can apply for the card online. And you can also add a self-certified Medical Indicator to your driver's license or State-issued ID card.

Kelli Steele has over 30 years of experience covering news in Delaware, Baltimore, Winchester, Virginia, Phoenix, Arizona and San Diego, California.