Trusted Attorney Providing Knowledgeable And Dedicated Representation

Attorney Christopher T. Adams

Trusted Attorney Providing Knowledgeable And Dedicated Representation

Your rights as a hearing-impaired person during police encounters

People with disabilities of all kinds have the protections of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in dealing with most services available to the public – even if, in reality, these accommodations are often less than perfect.

When dealing with law enforcement and the criminal justice system as a whole, many people with disabilities don’t realize that they’re entitled to accommodations to ensure that they have the same legal protections as anyone else. Too often, police officers and those who work in jails and courts don’t realize what their responsibilities are to people who have mobility, hearing, intellectual or other disabilities, no matter how serious their alleged offense is.

For those who are deaf or hard of hearing, communication with officers from the moment they’re stopped can be challenging. In some cases, this can cause officers to believe they’re intentionally failing to comply with orders or answer questions. Unfortunately, this can lead to tragic outcomes.

Law enforcement must comply with the ADA

If you are deaf or hearing impaired (or have a loved one who is), it’s important to know that law enforcement agencies must comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as well as applicable state and local laws.  This includes providing accommodations to anyone with a hearing impairment to make sure they understand what’s being said to them and what their rights are.

Some police forces have assisted listening devices and other equipment to facilitate communication. In some cases, like traffic stops, writing down questions and instructions may be all that’s needed. Officers can also use printouts of Miranda rights if a person needs to be Mirandized.

In some cases, a certified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter is mandatory. Generally, that’s when there needs to be lengthy and/or complicated communication – for example, during interrogations.

Know your rights before you need to assert them

Most people don’t expect to have an interaction with law enforcement beyond a traffic stop. However, you never know when even a simple interaction will become something more – especially if there’s a communication problem. That’s why it’s crucial for anyone with a hearing or other disability to know their rights so they can firmly but respectfully asset them if necessary.

If you or a loved one’s rights have been violated, having legal guidance can help ensure that justice is done.


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