Sign Language - Signs of Crime

Signs for Emergency Crime Communication

It is not unusual for deaf people to have difficulty communicating with the police, particularly in crime emergency situations. While police ARE legally required to bring in interpreters or technology for interviewing deaf people involved with crimes, it is helpful if the police know at least some basic signs related to crime. The death of a Gallaudet student, Carl Dupree, in 1991 has been attributed in part to police inability to understand his sign language as he tried to tell the police that he could not breathe.

Here are some words commonly associated with crime, and the sources of signs for them.

Alarm ASL Browser
Argue ASL Pro
Arrest ASL Browser
Arson (Fire)ASL Browser
Assault (Hit) ASL Browser
Blood ASL Browser
Break ASL Browser
Court ASL Pro
Escape ASL Browser
Fight ASL Browser
Guilt ASL Browser
Gun ASL Browser
Innocent ASL Browser
Investigate ASL Browser
Jail ASL Browser
Kidnap ASL Pro
Kill (Murder) ASL Browser
Knife ASL Browser
Lawyer ASL Browser
Rape ASL Browser
Stab ASL Browser
Theft (Rob) ASL Browser
Witness ASL Browser

Of course, it is also helpful for police to know the sign language alphabet so that cops can at least fingerspell words or understand the fingerspelling of a deaf person.

Other Guidance for Police

The Department of Justice has an online publication, Victims with Disabilities: Collaborative, Multidisciplinary First Response. This PDF is a companion to a DVD on the same topic, and it discusses deaf people in part.
Another DOJ page, "Communicating with People who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing: ADA Guide for Law Enforcement Officers" outlines examples of situations when an interpreter is not required, e.g. when a crime is in progress.

Help for Deaf Crime Victims

There are a few organizations that provide assistance to deaf victims of domestic abuse.
One such organization is Abused Deaf Women's Advocacy Services. This Washington state-based organization provides assistance to deaf domestic violence and sexual abuse victims.

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