New Service Makes Emergency Call to Police for Deaf Possible

New technology at Cleveland police department and Leicestershire police allows deaf community to be in direct contact with police in emergency situations.

Accessability to police is now a reality for those who are deaf, deafened, deaf blind, heard of hearing or prefer using sign language in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cleveland police department has invested in new technology that will help the deaf community to call the police using a video service to call an interpreter that will translate sign language to an officer.

All officers in the departement have had training in the system and all districts in the city have been equiped with iPads that have a video interpreter application installed. Through the app, officers can communicate with crime victims, suspects and witnesses through an interpreter within seconds.

The investment from the Cleveland police was after a demand and a need from the deaf and hard of hearing community that before had been struggling with emergency, and sometimes even life threatening, situations, as the way of contacting the police is through a normal phone call.

Cleveland police department has received great feedback on the project and is now the second large police department in the US that are using the service.

In Leicestershire, UK, the police have taken on a similar project. The police has started a BSL service with non-profit organisation InterpreterNow’s Video Relay Service that ran as a test from July to December everyday between 8pm and midnight. Users were able to download an app which allowed them to get in contact with the police through an interpreter video chat.

Assistant Chief Constable Phil Kay at the Leicestershire police is excited about the project and said, “We are very keen as a force to improve accessibility to our services. We understand how important it is for everyone within our communities to feel included and we want to provide them with a service that meets their needs.“

A group of officers have also been trained in British Sign Language and 2011 PLOD, Police Link Officers for Deaf People, was launched. In 2015 PLOD was shortlisted for the Nation Deaf Charity Signature award ”Community Impact” and they hope other police departments will be inspired by their work.

Contact us for more information about how we can help you with accessible emergency calls.