A number of police officers in Lancashire have been learning sign language (BSL) in order to communicate more effectively with deaf people, according to an article in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph.
The BSL-trained officers use their skills to help people who have been arrested and to gather statements from victims, witnesses and offenders. The Lancashire also has a Deaf Liaison Officer, who promotes training in sign language and deaf awareness, and also provides a emergency text messaging service for those unable to call the emergency services in the usual way due to deafness or speech impediments.
Some of the comments on the article rant about “political correctness gone mad” and the “waste tax payers [sic] money” – no surprise there. They also suggest that deaf people and the police could communicate with each other in writing. Other comments make the case the BSL; that writing is not a satisfactory substitute for speech in these situations, and that deaf people have as much right to receive public services as other tax payers.
A related news item on the BBC News site tells of two police officers in Manchester who are learning BSL as well.