NYPD recruits taught basic ASL as part of training to better communicate with deaf people during emergencies | New York Post

NYPD recruits taught basic ASL as part of training to better communicate with deaf people during emergencies | New York Post

The current class of NYPD recruits — 600 strong — learned basic American Sign Language as part of their training, enabling them to better communicate with deaf people during emergencies.

Jessica Wohlstetter, who teaches ASL at the College of Staten Island, Hudson County Community College and Montclair State University, led the training for this newest batch of officers, who’ll graduate from the Police Academy next month.

Wohlstetter, 42, designed the program from the ground up, and told The Post the training was “long overdue.”

According to the Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities, there are more than 175,000 deaf or hard of hearing individuals living in the five boroughs.

“ASL is the fourth most used language in America,” behind Chinese, Spanish, and English, she said.

“Over the years, the deaf community have had panels with the NYPD, and they’ve always said they want better communication with the police.”

The Staten Island mom was tapped in late 2022 by former NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell and the department’s deputy commissioner for equity and inclusion, Wendy Garcia, to teach the cadets to sign — starting with the first class of 2024.

All 600 cadets, for example, were taught to sign the phrases “Police Officer,” “Ambulance,” “Help” and “Interpreter.”

Meanwhile, 15 other NYPD officers — the children of deaf adults who could sign, and were already on the force — recently completed an intensive, 8-week program with Wohlstetter.

Soon, they’ll be sitting for the national exam to become certified ASL interpreters.

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