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NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Cadets training to become Norman police officers can gain insight to and exposure with a segment of their community's population that can be easily missed without the right level of awareness.
Through the assistance of some of Moore Norman Technology Center's students who are deaf or hard of hearing, Norman Police Academy cadets-in-training will experience what they need to know when encountering a resident with this particular disability in a session called "Communicating with Deaf Citizens: Sensitivity Training."
At the beginning of the session, cadets assume the role of a driver being pulled over in a routine traffic stop. A deaf student takes the role of an officer and begins communicating to them in American Sign Language about the driving violation, The Norman Transcript (http://bit.ly/1mbXwwP ) reported.
"It's that moment of disconnect — and frustration — that is so vital for the cadets to experience and process because it's exactly how a deaf or hard-of-hearing citizen feels in this type of situation," said Suzanne Graham, MNTC deaf and hard of hearing program interpreter.
Graham also is a trainer for the Norman Police Academy's course on deaf awareness.
During the three-hour session, MNTC Instructor DeAnn Martin, Graham and MNTC students connect with the cadets by introducing concepts such as being able to visually identify a deaf or hard-of-hearing person and understanding situational ethics related to this population.
They also discuss ADA and 504 accessibility, and what the law states about when to get an interpreter. Information is given on how to secure a qualified interpreter. They also teach basic American Sign Language signs that are specific to traffic stops and communicating effectively.
MNTC is the only technology center in Oklahoma that supplements career education with an employability class and a support system for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
MNTC's Employability Skills for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Students introduces topics for independent living, work place skills and job search preparation specific to the needs of the deaf or hard-of-hearing job seeker. The classes are open to high school and adult students.
Graham said some students travel from different parts of the state to attend MNTC because of this supplemental program.
"Because of our program, and the availability of jobs in the metropolitan area there is a higher population of deaf and hard-of-hearing people in our district. This is why we're so happy to help the Norman Police Academy with this training," she said.
Information from: The Norman Transcript, http://www.normantranscript.com
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