ARLINGTON HEIGHTS – New identification cards in Illinois aim to ease interactions between police and people with disabilities.
The “Person with a Disability Wallet Card” is available free from any secretary of state’s driver services facility, The Daily Herald reported. The cards are given to applicants 16 and older who have been diagnosed with an intellectual, developmental or mental disability, such as autism, epilepsy, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.
“My medical condition may impair my ability to communicate with others, especially with strangers or in stressful situations,” reads the introduction the identification card.
It goes on to tell authorities, “Please do not interpret my behavior as refusal to cooperate.”
“This should be a great tool,” Aurora police Lt. Mike Abbs said. “The more information we have on people’s abilities and disabilities when we first encounter them, the better we can serve them.”
The card was introduced this year as part of a state law sponsored by Democratic Rep. Stephanie Kifowit of Oswego and Democratic Sen. Linda Holmes of Aurora.
“This card will serve as a tool to foster communication between the public and our first responders,” Kifowit said. “Hopefully it will de-escalate any stressful situation, it will help first responders do their jobs, and in essence it will keep our loved ones safe.”
The state has printed 100,000 Person with a Disability Wallet Cards, but Kifowit said officials don’t know how many cards have been handed out since becoming available Jan. 2.