About the solution
Because of her condition, Catherine was worried about what would happen if she was pulled over by a police officer when she was driving.
She had heard stories of deaf people who got in trouble because of a police officer that couldn’t understand them. "If they pull you over and if they tell you to put your hands up and you can't hear then things might escalate," the young woman said.
So she decided to take action and created a class for the Mansfield Police Department to train officers in American Sign Language.
Catherine prepared her classes and a booklet of letters and phrases, with presentations. She also offered tips such as that the majority of deaf and hard of hearing people can read lips if the person looks at them when you are speaking and speak loudly and clearly.
In addition, the Mansfield Police Department now also has visor cards kept in each patrol car in case an officer encounters a driver who is deaf or hard of hearing, Seaward said. The cards help facilitate communication by stating "I am a deaf driver" and print a list of violations the officer can point out to the driver. The cards are also available to the public and were provided by the state Commission for Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Because she launched this class, Catherine was chosen as one of 12 finalists in Oticon Inc.'s Focus on People Awards (a national awards program recognizing adults, students and advocates with hearing loss, as well as hearing care practitioners, who have made inspirational contributions to the hearing impaired community).
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