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Odisha Police promises sign language interpreters at police stations for deaf & hard of hearing complainants

Police stations across Odisha will soon be made more inclusive and accessible for people who are deaf. The government has decided to provide sign language interpreters that would help the police take down complaints and information from victims who are deaf or have speech disabilities and are seeking police assistance.

The decision to make sign language interpreters available for deaf people is part of the state government's plan to ensure better police services to the public. Through the Mo Sarkar(my government) programme, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and senior officers will receive direct feedback from complainants about response and conduct of officials at more than 600 police stations.

People who are deaf and have speech related issues find it challenging to file their reports at the police stations as the staff does not know or understand sign language. Due to the communication barrier police personnel are not able to get the complete gist of the matter and the investigation suffers.

The authorities have starting working on the plan already and they are looking for people who are well versed and trained in the use and understanding of sign language.

We are working on making the service available to the deaf people. Everything is still in the planning and discussion stage and we are hopeful of rolling it out soon. Concerned departments will share the resources and when a deaf person visits a police station for assistance, a sign language interpreter will be made available to help in the communication and interpret. Once the implementation begins, we will get a better idea of how it works and we will keep making amends. We will continue to review the system and fine tune it as required. - Sudhanshu Sarangi, Police Commissioner, Bhubaneswar

The step has been welcomed by many and is being seen as a step forward towards inclusion, however, there are many deaf people who do not understand Indian sign language and for them the issue of communication gap may still be a huge challenge.

"It's a good initiative taken by Odisha government but in Odisha many deaf people are not well educated and don't know sign language", points out Jyoti Prasanna Patnaik, a social worker "So, a big question is that if a deaf victim is not aware about sign language then how the interpreter can will interpret? And government officials must also know the basic disability etiquette".

The Mo Sarkar (my government) initiative also applies to services offered by 21 district headquarter hospitals and some medical colleges in the state as well. The names and numbers of people who visited either a police station or hospital will be stored in a portal, which will randomly seek feedback from 10 people every day.

The Chief Minister has promised a more proactive police force too. "Under the Mo Sarkar initiative, a citizen will not chase police to register a complain rather, Police officials will follow up with the complainant as to how he was treated at the police station and how his complaint was dealt with". Big promises that will be closely watched.



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