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Condensed From 8newsnow.com by Madison Kimbro, Jan. 1, 2024
Tim Smalley, President of the Nevada Association for the Deaf has lived in Nevada his whole life. He and others within the deaf community are thankful for Assembly Bill 161 now in effect. “I’ve had my own experience trying to communicate with the Police Department,” Smalley shared. The bill, passed by Governor Lombardo requires the Nevada DMV to “place a flag on a driver’s license and vehicle registration that a communication need exists.”

This is a huge giant step in the right direction for drivers with communication challenges. “It can be a very scary moment and very confusing, especially if a lot of officers show up and you don’t know why you are being stopped and you don’t know how to respond,” Smalley recalled being pulled over by authorities. While the flag icon on someone’s license is upon request, the registration part of the bill stating a “communication need” will go into effect on January 1st, 2026. “I am very happy that this happened because in the past they wanted to give us a separate driver’s license that said that we were hearing impaired which is an inappropriate term to use,” he added.

Susan Beckett, vice chair of the Nevada Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission is an advocate for the cause after her own experience with hearing loss. “I was completely deaf at 40. My mid-twenties are when I got my first set of hearing aids,” Beckett shared. Beckett said that she hopes this bill leads to further discussion and resources. “If anything, this bill and being a part of the Nevada Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission has taught me so much and there is a huge need in this community,” she shared. Again, the flag symbol is not mandatory. The DMV will only issue it upon request from a driver with proper documentation.

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