MCALLEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Texas House Bill 3132 was signed by Governor Greg Abbott and will go into effect in September.
The state bill allows for an optional designation on a driver’s license or ID card indicating that the person is deaf or hard-of-hearing.
“This is a great step in the right direction and much needed direction. We have a lot of teenagers right now they’re doing their hours to get their license and their permits,” Jovanne Delgado, owner of South Texas Interpreters of the Deaf said. “I think this on their driver’s license on their permit would help tremendously.”
Brooke Hernandez, a deaf independent living manager at VAIL, hopes this new form of identification will facilitate not only communication, but also bring awareness and comprehension to law enforcement about communicating with deaf and hard-of-hearing people.
“The police, they don’t want to write to communicate with me. They just talk,” Hernandez said. “I don’t understand them.”
According to South Texas Interpreters of the Deaf, there are nearly 14,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing people in the Rio Grande Valley, but only 36 recorded certified sign language interpreters.
“It will show our law enforcement and our civil service the need to learn sign language. They’ll see exactly wow, this person has a hearing loss. This person needs sign language, and it will open up their eyes to the need here in the Valley of learning ASL to communicate and the need for sign language interpreters,” Delgado said.
Hernandez says her biggest struggle is the lack of education in American Sign Language, also known as ASL and lack of resources.
She says things like iPads or a video relay interpreter are resources that can be used to avoid waiting for an interpreter.
“I ask, you require to take basic American Sign Language, of course or learn to communicate with the deaf and hard of hearing,” Hernandez said.
People with the designation will have the words “communication impediment” on the front of their driver’s license or ID.