Deaf police to monitor security cameras in Mexico

Deaf police officers have been recruited to monitor security cameras in the Mexican city of Oaxaca because of their ‘heightened visual abilities’.

There’s a brief and somewhat clunky English-language news article from the local paper that describes the project:

Ignacio Villalobos Carranza, Deputy Secretary for the Ministry of Public Security of Oaxaca, said most of the monitoring of the 230 cameras is done by law enforcement officials that are hearing or speech impaired. He noted these police officers have a very strong deaf and visual sense and can better detect what is happening in different places where the cameras are located; they can often remotely read the conversations of people, to the benefit of this security system that operates 24 hours a day.

The ability to lip read conversations is a fantastic advantage, but the project raises the question of whether deaf people would actually be better at security monitoring in general.

As far as I know, there are no studies comparing hearing and deaf people on specific monitoring tasks but there is evidence that deaf people have certain advantages in visual attention.

This isn’t vision in general, such as having sharper visual acuity – where there seems to be no difference, but there is good evidence that deaf people are better at noticing things in the periphery of vision and detecting movement.

This potentially makes them perfect for the job and likely better than their hearing colleagues.

So the project turns out to be a targeted way not of recruiting ‘disabled people’ into the workforce, but of recruiting the ‘super able’. In fact, turning the whole idea of disability on its head.

There’s also a Spanish-language video report from BBC Mundo if you want more información.
 

Link to brief new article on the project.
Link to Spanish-language video report from BBC Mundo.

5 Comments

  1. Posted September 8, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Good idea. Most people of us have “physical impairments” on some scale anyway. Why draw those lines? Also, don’t many undercover cops observe scenes from far away where conversations can’t be heard?

  2. Deaf Deaf
    Posted September 8, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Please be advised that the term, “hearing impaired” is unacceptable. Here is the explanation:

    The term “Hearing Impaired” is a technically accurate term much preferred by hearing people, largely because they view it as politically correct. In the mainstream society, to boldly state one’s disability (e.g., deaf, blind, etc.) is somewhat rude and impolite. To their way of thinking, it is far better to soften the harsh reality by using the word “impaired” along with “visual”, “hearing”, and so on. “Hearing-impaired” is a well-meaning word that is much-resented by deaf and hard of hearing people. This term was popular in the 70s and 80s, however, now is used mostly by doctors, audiologists and other people who are mainly interested in our ears “not working.”

    While it’s true that their hearing is not perfect, that doesn’t make them impaired as people. Most would prefer to be called Deaf, Hard of Hearing or deaf when the need arises to refer to their hearing status, but not as a primary way to identify them as people (where their hearing status is not significant).

    We are deaf, and not people with impairments (obstacles) in life!

    Hope that you and your people respect by refusing to use the outdated and offensive term. Hearing loss is more acceptable for everyone who is not just deaf.

    http://www.eastersealscrossroads.org/blog/2011/september/deaf-vs-hearing-impaired

    http://www.deafau.org.au/info/terminology.php

    http://nad.org/issues/american-sign-language/community-and-culture-faq

  3. matt
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    great post. not offensive. sheesh.

  4. janis anderson
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:34 am | Permalink

    Deaf people are not stupid. They can focus on seeing better than hearing people can because they can’t hear.

  5. trabasack
    Posted September 17, 2012 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    An example of positive discrimination I suppose!


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