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New Kentucky Law Helping Deaf, Hard of Hearing People Communicate with Police

July 8, 2024
Source: WLKY News

[NOTE: The Southeast ADA Center is posting the article below, first published in January 2024, as an example of an ADA Best Practice. The new law took effect in Kentucky on January 1, 2024.]

A new law is making it safer for those who have a communication barrier to communicate with police.

The law took effect on [January] 1 and allows a person who is deaf, hard of hearing, or unable to speak to designate their disability on their driver’s registration. That way, if they are pulled over by an officer, the officer will be alerted to the communication barrier before the interaction.

“This is always a benefit to us,” said Chief Barry Wilkerson of the St. Matthews Police Department. “Whether it be a traffic stop, a traffic accident, sometimes even when we run somebody for just a regular call for service. This will relieve the anxiety for that person and help us communicate better so they fully understand what we’re doing and why we’re there.”

To register for the designation, simply ask for the special code to be added to your vehicle’s registration at your local [Kentucky Department of Motor Vehicles or] DMV. Erran Huber with the Jefferson County Clerk’s Office said the information will not be made public.

“This is something that is kept really on the back end,” said Huber. “There’s no special updates to someone’s driver’s license or anything of that nature. So this is something that’s going to be seen internally by people who have access to the database.”

The designation is free of charge, and completely voluntary. However, both Huber and Wilkerson said this tool is something that will effectively make interactions with police and the public safer.

For more information, visit the Kentucky DMV website.

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Related Resources from the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing: