COLUMBUS – Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles, a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety, released an awareness video explaining how individuals with a diagnosed communication disability can voluntarily enroll in a database to inform law enforcement of their communication disability.
Any individual with a medically diagnosed communication disability who drives, or regularly has someone with a medically diagnosed communication disability in their vehicle, can voluntarily enroll in a database that connects to the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System.
The law enforcement officer then is aware that the driver or a person in the vehicle may have difficulty communicating and can approach the vehicle with awareness to help avoid a situation that could become harmful to either the individual with a communication disability or to the officer.
“Since taking office last year, I’ve made clear my commitment to establishing Ohio as a disability inclusion state and model employer of individuals with disabilities,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said. “This is a way to better include individuals with communication disabilities.”
Individuals interested can take a verification form to a physician, psychiatrist or psychologist to validate a communication disability. Completed forms should be submitted to the BMV.
“We want everyone to know about this Ohio law and how it supports the safety of people in our community who have challenges communicating,” Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said. “This is a great way to boost understanding, but we need participation to make it happen.”
“This has been a game changer for individuals with communication disabilities,” Kevin Miller, the director of OOD, said. “By opting in, a communication disability is flagged for law enforcement, but exact disabilities (e.g., deaf, hard of hearing, cerebral palsy, autism spectrum disorder) remain private.”
“Being able to obtain information about an individual with a communication disability is an invaluable resource for Ohio law enforcement,” Tom Stickrath, director of ODPS, said. “This allows for improved communication, which in turn creates trust, community stability and officer safety.”