Call for special license plates for the hearing-impaired - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Call for special license plates for the hearing-impaired

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- A hearing-impairment can create challenges, especially during a traffic stop. There are dozens of special license plates in Kentucky, so one woman is asking why there isn't one that would benefit the deaf and the officers who are interacting with them.

Many of us have had the flashing lights coming up behind us on the road -- you know the feeling.  But what if you are deaf, and the officer cannot communicate with you clearly?

Nina Whatley can only imagine the difficulty.  "I guess it would depend on how well I read lips, at nighttime you probably can't see as well, so the officer wouldn't mistake you for being stubborn and obstinate," said Whatley. 

She recently realized the issue while attending a meeting for LMPD's Citizens Police Academy, when several deaf alumni brought up the issue. "I went home and I drew up some things, I drew up this sticker that could be stuck on the car next to the license plate. And this is what I thought could be a simple license plate," she said.

"I mean we've got license plates for everything else," said Lt. Kevin DeSpain with LMPD. "Why not have a license plate that says hearing-impaired that would let that officer know as he's making a traffic stop to be aware that I may be dealing with a hearing-impaired driver here?  I think it's a great idea." 

Lieutenant Kevin DeSpain trains recruits for LMPD, which includes procedures for interacting with a hearing-impaired person. "It doesn't happen that frequently to where we've seen a very big issue. But we do try to address that and prepare those recruits," said DeSpain.

A handful of states have special license plates for the hearing impaired. Whatley wants to see it here, so she called on Kentucky Senator Gerald Neal for help. "I am looking into it to see the feasibility of moving in that direction of what can and should be done in order to address the issues," said Neal in a phone interview with WDRB.

Whatley adds, "He said to get the license plates made you have to have 700 signatures. And so that's why I came to you guys because I figured that there are enough people that are deaf, hard of hearing or have family members or at least know somebody that we can get at least 700 signatures."

If you would like to learn more about Whatley's cause, you can email her at: duckbootzinc@insightbb.com

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