Buffalo Grove police using visor cards to communicate with hearing-impaired drivers

BUFFALO GROVE, Ill. (WLS) -- A new program is opening the lines of communication between police officers and the community they serve.

This summer, the Buffalo Grove Police Department rolled out visor cards for motorists who are hearing impaired.

"A parent from Buffalo Grove contacted us," said Buffalo Grove Police Chief Steven Casstevens. "She has a young daughter who is of driving age learning how to drive and her daughter is hard of hearing and she called and asked if we had any type of program, any type of flyers or educational materials that we could provide, not only to our officers, but to drivers."

The department's community relations officer contacted the state of Illinois, and found a program for visor cards.

"What's really nice is the card has your typical violations that an officer would stop you for, so if an officer has the card, he can just point to the stop sign or the speed limit, or you didn't have your seatbelt on or something like that, so it makes it very easy to communicate when you first walk up to the car and you determine that you have a driver who is either deaf or hard of hearing," said Chief Casstevens.

Officers can store the cards in their visor, console or backpack just in case. The visor card also gives tools for different types of communication.

"Whether they might be able to read lips or not, whether they prefer having notes written down and going back and forth that way, whether they do sign and they need an interpreter, so it covers a lot of those bases," said Officer Matthew Mills.

The department distributes the cards to all officers and offers free copies to the public in the station lobby.

Chief Casstevens hopes the program will expand.

"I'm really glad that the parent contacted us because as an officer for over four decades, I didn't know that his card existed in Illinois, so I am very happy that they contacted us and hoping that this will spread to all the other police departments in the area," he said.

Beyond the visor cards, the police department is also hoping to get Illinois ID cards to help officers communicate with adults with other disabilities, too.
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