A story has broken today about an elderly deaf man in America who died after a police officer (it is alleged) presumed he was ignoring him, and Tasered him while he was riding his bicycle. It’s in the Mail Online http://t.co/rxpfti0f and Gawker here: http://gawker.com/5862447/deaf-disabled-senior-citizen-on-bicycle-deemed-threat-by-police-tased-to-death
This comes on the back of a horrific incident last year outside a US shopping mall, where a deaf ASL user was held in a ‘choke hold’ by a security guard despite the protestations of his deaf friend in an incident that went viral on YouTube: http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2010/08/hollywood_security_choke.php What occurred to someone simply going about their daily business is enough to bring most deaf people out in a cold sweat.
Closer to home, just last month, we found out how a deaf man was arrested when the sign for “I’m deaf” was mistaken for the V sign by a police officer. The police officer was later criticised in court:
Far milder than the cases above, I’ve had many times (in shops or on buses for example) when people have walked past me looking intensely annoyed and I’ve realised that they’ve been asking to get by, possibly more than once, not realising I can’t hear them. Presumably they think I’m ignoring them.
The Olympics arrive in London next year, and so it might be a good time to remind police and security staff in the UK and everywhere else, that people who do not respond to what you say at first, or respond with gestures instead of words, may not be trying to annoy you. They may simply be deaf. Apparently one in six of us are.