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Police Bureau

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Phone: 503-823-0000

Fax: 503-823-0342

Non-Emergency: 503-823-3333

1111 S.W. 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

640.36 Communication with Members of the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

* Please note: This is a working draft of Directive 640.36, previously titled Communication with Hearing Impaired and Limited English Proficient Persons.  This is proposed language and addresses only the communication with the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. The Bureau has not implemented any changes to the current policy at this time.

640.36 Communication with Members of the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community

2nd Universal Review: 4/14/17-4/29/17

Refer:      

  • DIR 870.90, Waiver, Statements and Rights Notification Forms
  • The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended (Section 504)
  • Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended (ADA)
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • 28 CFR Part 35, Non-Discrimination on the Basis of Disability in State and Local Government Services

Definitions:

  • American Sign Language (ASL):  A complete, complex language that employs signs made by moving the hands combined with facial expressions and postures of the body.  Though ASL is the primary language of most members of the d/Deaf community in North America, it is one of several communication options used by individuals who are, or identify as, deaf or hard of hearing. 
  • Auxiliary Aids:  Tools used to assist members in communicating with individuals who are, or identify as, deaf or hard of hearing.  These may include qualified interpreter services, written communication, mobile phone apps, telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDDs), teletypewriter (TTY), videophones (VRS) and/or video remote interpreting services or devices. 
  • Deaf:  A person who has a range of hearing loss, generally very little or no functional hearing, and who may be unable to process linguistic information through hearing.  Deaf individuals often use sign language to communicate, but there may be other preferred communication tools or methods to communicate. 
  • Hard of Hearing:  A person who has a range of hearing loss, generally mild to moderate, and who may be unable to understand oral communication.  Hard of hearing individuals may communicate through sign language, spoken language, or both. 
  • Qualified Interpreter: An interpreter who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially both receptively and expressively, using any necessary specialized vocabulary.  For the purposes of this directive, “qualified interpreter” shall indicate an “ASL qualified interpreter.” 
  • Signed English: A sign system which matches each spoken word of English and employs the signs of ASL but uses English grammar in place of ASL syntax.

Policy.

  1. The purpose of this directive is to establish practices for Bureau member communication with members of the d/Deaf and hard of hearing community and, when necessary, to develop protocols for accessing qualified interpreter services (when requested) or other communication tools to ensure effective and accurate communication with individuals who use a signed language or another non-verbal method of communication. 
  2. The Bureau is dedicated to protecting the lives and property of all members of the public, including those who are or identify as d/Deaf or hard of hearing.  However, the Bureau also recognizes that communication barriers can inhibit these individuals from accessing City services, understanding their rights and commitments, and from communicating accurately and efficiently.  The Bureau strives to make reasonable efforts to ensure its members are able to communicate effectively and lawfully with individuals who communicate by means other than verbal communication; therefore, the Bureau will take reasonable steps to provide members of these communities with timely and comprehensive access to Bureau services, programs, and benefits. 
  3. In accordance with federal laws and regulations and in ensuring that fair and accurate information is effectively conveyed, the Bureau shall provide access to qualified interpreters and communication services for d/Deaf and hard of hearing community members.  

Procedure.

1. Reasonable and Lawful Accommodations for Members of the d/Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.

1.1. When attempting to communicate with an individual who is believed to be deaf or hard of hearing, members shall, in the course of their official duties, take the following actions:

1.1.1. Determine, through written communication or another means (e.g., hand gestures) whether the individual is deaf or hard of hearing; and

1.1.2. Inform the individual, through written communication or another means, that the Bureau will provide a qualified interpreter or other auxiliary aids free of charge.  Members shall indicate what communication resources are available and ask the individual if services or accommodations are needed or preferred.  Members should note that an individual may refuse additional services or accommodations.

1.1.3. If the individual requests an auxiliary aid, members shall make the appropriate arrangements to provide qualified interpreter services or the requested device (e.g., TTY/TDDs, video devices, etc.), or an alternative if the preferred method of communication is not available.  When the individual requests a qualified interpreter, it is the member’s responsibility to determine whether the individual uses ASL, Signed English or another signed language to communicate. 

1.2. Members should be aware that an individual who is deaf or hard of hearing may be able to communicate verbally; however, they may not be able to understand verbal communication. 

1.3. When time and circumstances permit, Bureau members should not rely on non-qualified interpreters (e.g., friends, family members, minors, etc.) to communicate with a member of the d/Deaf or hard of hearing community.

1.3.1. In the event that there is a threat of physical harm to an individual, members may, while awaiting a qualified interpreter, utilize available auxiliary aids (e.g., written communication, hand gestures, etc.) to communicate with the d/Deaf or hard of hearing individual to gather pertinent information.  Such alternative communication methods must be confirmed upon arrival or availability of a qualified interpreter, and the content of the exchange between the Bureau member and the d/Deaf or hard of hearing individual should be considered temporary or non-binding and should not be held against the individual. 

1.4. Qualified interpreter services shall be provided for community members who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing, and who have not refused such services, when:

1.4.1. Interviewing a community member who is deaf or hard of hearing as a potential witness, victim, or suspect concerning a criminal investigation.

1.4.2. Conducting a criminal investigation involving a minor who is a potential witness, victim, or suspect when the parent(s), guardian, or custodian of the child is deaf or hard of hearing.

1.4.3. A community member who is deaf or hard of hearing seeks police services and requests interpreter services.

1.4.4. In the course of performing their duties, a sworn member or associated bureau member determines qualified interpreter services are needed as required by law for effective communication. 

1.5. Members shall refer to Directive 870.90, Waiver, Statements and Rights of Notification Forms, for additional guidance regarding the communication of Miranda rights to individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. 

1.6. Pursuant to the ADA, the Bureau shall ensure that it is equipped with the appropriate resources (e.g., video or telecommunications relay services) to facilitate communication with members of the d/Deaf and hard of hearing community who place calls to the Bureau. 

2. Member Requests for Qualified Interpreter Services.

2.1. All Bureau members in the field who are in need of immediate qualified interpreter services for any communication needs can make the request directly to the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) via radio. 

2.2. Bureau members who do not have an immediate need (for investigative purposes or otherwise) should make appointments for qualified interpreter services utilizing the procedures found in the Reference Materials on the Intranet/Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD).  

2.3. Bureau members should be aware that when BOEC receives a call that requires dispatch of patrol units to conduct a criminal investigation involving a community member who is d/Deaf or hard of hearing, BOEC will automatically contact a qualified interpreter to respond to the scene. The Bureau members responding to the call will be notified via radio that a qualified interpreter will be in route, and the qualified interpreter cannot be cancelled without supervisor approval. 

2.4. Bureau members should review and have a working knowledge of the publication Communicating with People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: ADA Guide for Law Enforcement as well as any subsequent reference materials that may be found in the Reference Materials on the Intranet/CAD. 

3. Costs.

3.1. Community members are not responsible for any costs associated with securing qualified interpreter services or with the auxiliary aid resources provided by the Bureau.  

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