On January 24, 2020, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities (OOD) and the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), a division of the Ohio Department of Public Safety (ODPS), held a media event to launch the Communication Disability Law Awareness Video.

“The Communication Disability Law is a big step in the right direction to reduce confusion and to support the safety of people in our community who have challenges communicating,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “It’s wonderful to have a process to help folks with a communication disability, but if they don’t know it’s available for them, then we are not making full use of the law.”

The new video explains the Communication Disability Law, which allows individuals with a medically diagnosed communication disability, who drive or who are a regular passenger in a vehicle, to voluntarily enroll in a database that connects to the Law Enforcement Agencies Data System (LEADS). The law enforcement officer is then aware that the driver or a passenger 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.

“This has been a game changer for individuals with communication disabilities,” said Kevin Miller, Director of OOD. “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,” said Thomas Stickrath, Director of ODPS. “This allows for improved communication, which in turn creates trust, community stability, and officer safety.”