New program aims to help drivers with disabilities

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In a first for the country, a new statewide program aims to help people with disabilities during a traffic stop.

According to Brooke Hernandez - the deaf services manager at Valley Association of Independent Living - the deaf and hard of hearing rely on movement to communicate. But that form of communication can actually put them at risk during traffic stops.

“They're afraid to move when they're in the car because they think the cop –if they move since they can’t talk – the cop is gonna think they're trying to pull out a gun,” Hernandez said. “Sometimes the cop will get mad and arrest them, so that's miscommunication, and that's happened a lot."

At least 3.8 million people are either deaf or hard of hearing in the state of Texas. Roughly 15,000 of them live in the Rio Grande Valley.

The Texas Driving with Disability Program offers disabled individuals the option to identify communication impairments on their driver's license and vehicle registrations.

The program also gives officers access to training modules that teach them how to appropriately communicate with people who have disabilities

Hernandez says she looks forward to seeing more officers effectively communicating with people who are like her.

Watch the video above for the full story. 


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