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Suffolk police offer help for hearing-impaired motorists

Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron, at a

Suffolk County Police Chief Stuart Cameron, at a news conference in Hauppauge on Wednesday, displays a vehicle visor card for motorists who are hard of hearing. Photo Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk County officials are encouraging hearing-impaired motorists to carry vehicle visor cards that can be used to communicate with police officers during traffic stops or after car accidents. 

The new cards, available at Suffolk police precincts and online, will help motorists tell officers they are hearing- or speech-impaired, Chief of Department Stuart Cameron said Wednesday during a news conference at its offices in Hauppauge. 

“We really can’t help people if we can’t communicate with them,” Cameron said.

The cards will help motorists tell police officers that they are hearing-impaired, Cameron said, and help hearing-impaired motorists in need. One half of the card includes a list of ways — American Sign Language, pen and paper and lip-reading — hearing-impaired motorists can use to tell officers how they prefer to communicate. The other half of the card includes reasons — including speeding, expired license plates or illegal turns — a police officer can point to as an explanation for why the motorist was pulled over. 

The cards, which can be tucked into a windshield visor, are available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Haitian Creole and Polish.

Legis. Robert Calarco (D-Patchogue) thanked Loretta Murray, executive director of the Mill Neck Family of Organizations, which provides services to the deaf, for encouraging Suffolk officials to follow Nassau County’s lead and provide cards to hearing-impaired motorists. 

"This goes hand in hand with the efforts the county has been making over the past several years to communicate with everybody in the county," Calarco said. 

The department has installed tablets in patrol cars in recent years that give officers access to translation services for scores of languages. County officials announced last month that interpreters fluent in American Sign Language will be available to officers via the tablets.

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