‘Ottawa’ Braille ID Cards will Identify Police Officers to Residents with Vision Loss
Starting next week, the Ottawa police will carry braille laminate identification badges to help break down barriers between people with vision loss and officers.
The overlay — placed on top of the officer’s wallet badge ID — indicates the officer’s rank and the main police phone number. According to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, this initiative is unique in Canada and puts the Ottawa police ahead of the pack in terms of accessibility.
“This is a great opportunity to enhance service to residents in our city,” said Sgt. Adam Coakley, who led the initiative. “With more than 8,000 residents in Ottawa who are blind or partially sighted, the braille sleeve makes it easier to confirm we are police officers when interacting with people who have vision loss.”
Coakley said the program wasn’t generated by an incident or public push, but rather the idea came to him during a presentation at the department’s professional development centre by members of the blind community in Ottawa.
“It made me appreciate just how many barriers folks with those challenges have in their day-to-day lives, and I wanted to find out if there was any way we (could) help,” he said. “I thought that my solution could in some way help in the communication and identification … between officers and the public.”
“We commend the Ottawa police service for taking this initiative, which will allow people with vision loss to confirm that the person they are interacting with is, in fact, a police officer,” said Diane Bergeron, executive director, strategic relations and engagement, CNIB. “People who are blind or partially sighted will no longer be worried that they may be talking with someone posing as an officer.”