Better Access for Hearing Impaired in S. Carolina

     (CN) – The Columbia, S.C., police department agreed Tuesday to take steps to improve its interactions with the hearing-impaired, both on local roads and at a precinct.
     The agreement comes on the heels of a Justice Department investigation that found the police department in South Carolina’s largest city was not providing services required under the Americans with Disabilities Act that would enable effective communication with the deaf or heard of hearing.
     Under the terms of the agreement, the department will, among other things, provide auxiliary aids and services free of charge, including sign language interpreters, to people who are deaf or hard of hearing, within specific time frames; modify handcuffing policies to handcuff deaf individuals in front, safety permitting, to enable the person to communicate using sign language or writing; designate an ADA coordinator for law enforcement; develop and utilize a communication card to communicate with persons who are deaf or hard of hearing during routine interactions in the field; and conduct annual ADA training for all of its personnel.
     Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act requires public entities such as police officers, firefighters and correctional officers to ensure that their communications with people with hearing disabilities are as effective as their communications with people without disabilities.

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