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Northamptonshire Police have released a short video in the hopes of helping to raise awareness for DeafBlind Awareness week.
Around 400,000 people in the UK are affected by sight and hearing loss, including a significant community within Northamptonshire who can find it difficult to make contact with the police.
PCSO Kerry Parris, who is trained in British Sign Language (BSL) to help communicate with people who are deaf, said: “It’s really important for people to understand that when you communicate with someone in the deaf community it is very different to a hearing person. Trying to communicate with someone who has some form of partial or total inability to see or hear, can be even more tough.
“There are some common misconceptions that speaking louder will help them hear, or because they can speak – which is something they were encouraged to do at school – that they can also hear. Using an interpreter is the best way for both parties to communicate with each other.”
While the force has a long way to go before it is accessible to people in ways they need, there a number of things that have been done to help improve communication.
Northamptonshire Police has a number of officers that have been trained in British Sign Language (BSL) and are available to help when needed. It also become the first force in the country to offer a BSL interpretation service for non-emergencies.
Through this service, a BSL users can connect to a BSL interpreter at Sign Video via video calling, using a link on the Contact pages of the police website, which can be found here: Contact us | Northamptonshire Police (northants.police.uk)
The BSL interpreter will then telephone the Force Control Room (FCR) and relay the information provided to them by the BSL user and vice versa.
People who are deaf or hard of hearing can also report non-urgent incidents or make non-urgent enquiries via text message. The FCR will also respond via SMS text message.
PCSO Kerry Parris, said: “We don’t have all the answers, but we want to improve how we interact with our deafblind community.”