Tulsa Police Work To Improve Communication With Deaf Community
TULSA, Oklahoma – A town hall meeting Tuesday night focused on taking the fear out of a scary situation. Neither police nor citizens know exactly what to expect when someone’s pulled over, but that anxiety is compounded when a driver is deaf or hard of hearing. The issue came into stark focus after a deaf man was shot and killed last month in Florida, when he didn’t respond to deputies telling him to drop his gun. While Florida may seem far from here, it hits close to home for the deaf and hard of hearing in Oklahoma. A traffic stop is a situation no one ever wants to be in, but it happens. A reenactment shows a traffic stop from an officer’s perspective, but also gives the driver’s point of view. In this case, the man behind to wheel is deaf. It’s a situation Papa Rodgers Cameron said he knows all-too-well. “I get stopped a lot. I travel an awful lot on a motorcycle,” he said. Cameron speaks well, but he can’t hear. “I’m very, very, difficult to communicate with,” he said. Communication was the focus of a town hall meeting for the deaf and hard of hearing Tuesday night; whether it’s during a traffic stop, fire or 911 call.
Not all deaf people speak or read lips, but almost all communicate with their hands.