VPD on services for the deaf


New Member
Apr 18, 2004
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VPD on services for the deaf; more money for shelter service | Canada.com

Four years later, some progress.

A request in 2008 by the Pivot Legal Society for the Vancouver Police Department to provide better service for the deaf appears to have been met.

In a policy amendment going before the Vancouver Police Board Wednesday, the VPD recommends that “persons who are deaf or hard of hearing receive the services of a sign language interpreter when it is necessary to ensure that there is proper communication between the police member and the deaf or hard of hearing person.”

The VPD report says the department has an agreement with The Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to provide interpreters who are qualified to interpret in police and legal situations.

The report also indicates the VPD approached other police departments in the Lower Mainland, including the RCMP, and was successful in getting an agreement signed that ensures “a consistent level of service to the deaf throughout the Vancouver region.”

The Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Deaf Access Office both supported Pivot’s request and notified the police board in letters.

How widespread the concern regarding interaction between deaf and hard of hearing people and police is not clear from the letters.

But in one of the letters sent to the police board in 2008, Paige Thombs of the Deaf Access Office said she noticed an increase in concerns from the deaf community regarding procedures and services of the VPD.

“These concerns have come from a variety of deaf clients including those initiating the services of the police, those being arrested and those being questioned and/or interviewed,” Thombs wrote. “All of the individuals have been frustrated at the seeming lack of effort or interest on the part of the VPD to make their services accessible or acknowledge the human rights of this community by arranging for interpreting services.”

That was four years ago.

I left a message for Thombs Monday. She sent me an email Tuesday morning saying she couldn’t comment until getting permission from her director. I’ll provide an update in this space, if she gets approval to talk about this topic.