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Breaking Down Barriers with a New Visual Aid Card

Over the last year the Vancouver Police Foundation has proudly funded a number of brand-new impactful programs – all of which are spearheaded by VPD sworn and civilian professional members when they see a need in the community. One of these innovative new programs resulted from a partnership between the VPD and Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility to create a visual aid card for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.  The purpose of the card is to break down barriers and improve communication.

“We know it can be stressful and frustrating when a person who is Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing experiences barriers to inclusion, so when the folks at Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility approached us with a way to improve communication, equity, and inclusion with their community, we jumped at the chance to partner,” explains VPD Sergeant Steve Addison. “Together, we’ve developed a solution to help our front-line officers better communicate with people who are Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing.”

The two-sided visor card was designed in a way to maximize readability. One side of the card features words and icons that help police officers indicate their intentions, such as the purpose of the stop, the need to see a driver’s license, or how to pay and dispute a ticket. The other side is for people who are Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing to communicate their intentions and responses to police officers.

The visor card is a milestone with our local community to improve accessibility and inclusion,” says Christopher T. Sutton, Chief Executive Officer at Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility. “When persons with disabilities can participate in all aspects of society, it enriches Canada’s economic and cultural diversity.

And of course, everyone involved made sure the card was made with a thick and durable waterproof material to cope with the reality of Vancouver’s wet climate. All Vancouver Police patrol vehicles – including motorcycles – are now equipped with the two-sided card. Additional cards are available for pickup by any member of the community at any the hearing clinics of the three Wavefront offices in Vancouver.

“At Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility, we envision a society where Deaf, Heard of Hearing and Hearing people can interact freely without communication barriers,” adds Sutton.

This Visual Aid Card has recently caught the attention of several other policing agencies in BC with the Victoria Police Department, the Delta Police Department and the RCMP all working to roll out a similar card for their jurisdictions based on this innovative program.

Wavefront Centre for Communication Accessibility is a B.C.-based charitable not-for-profit organization. Wavefront Centre delivers innovative services in Audiology and Communication Devices, Counselling, Seniors Outreach, and Accessible Communication Services that assist people who are deaf and hard of hearing achieve full communication accessibility.

If you would like to donate to support programs like the Visual Aid Card or any other VPD officer-initiated community program, please donate online or call us at 604.717.3700. Gifts of all sizes can make a difference.

The Vancouver Police Foundation supports programs and initiatives that fall under one of four pillars: Youth Programs, Mental Health & Addictions, Community Outreach & Engagement, and Technology & Special Equipment. You can help build a safer Vancouver by donating to the Vancouver Police Foundation.

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