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Deaf drivers in Oregon can now include their hearing status on license

Wikimedia Commons

Deaf drivers in Oregon have a new way to let police officers know that they’re hard of hearing.

Deaf drivers in Oregon have a new way to let police officers know that they’re hard of hearing.

For drivers who are deaf, getting pulled over can be extra stressful, said Chad Ludwig, the director of Bridges Oregon, a Salem-based advocacy group.

During testimony before a legislative committee last year, Ludwig said many in the deaf community have reported challenges with trying to communicate with law enforcement.

“A lot of those difficulties include officers not understanding that they were deaf, communication–not being successful–and their needs or accommodations not being recognized," he testified.

The new law allows deaf Oregonians to indicate on their license and registration that they’re hard of hearing. It’s meant to give officers advance notice that they’ll be encountering someone who has difficulty hearing.

Some organizations provide deaf and hard of hearing people placards to indicate their status to officers. But those placards are not official, and aren’t useful in some types of traffic stops, said Rep. Lily Morgan, R-Grants Pass, who has previously worked in law enforcement.

“We know that officers must make quick assessments and decisions based on the information at hand,” she said during testimony in favor of the measure. “(The bill) will give them an increased ability to have more information at hand."

The legislation, House Bill 2498, passed both chambers without opposition, although 17 lawmakers were not present for the votes.

It’s one of several new transportation bill that took effect with the new year.

House Bill 3125 will allow Oregonians to register up to two people as emergency contacts with the Oregon DMV. Only law enforcement will have access to the information, which is to be used in the event of an emergency when the license-holder is unable to communicate. The goal is to facilitate faster communication with family members and loved ones.

The only lawmaker to vote against the bill to make it easier to contact family members and loved ones in the event of an emergency was Sen. Dallas Heard, R-Myrtle Creek.

Copyright 2022 KLCC.

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”