Mohamed Abanoor is excited—and relieved. He just learned from his audiologist that, with his hearing aids, he’ll meet the hearing requirements the Boston Police Department sets for its potential recruits—a standard he had been worried would stand in his way of achieving a goal he’s held for years: becoming a Boston police officer.
Without the hearing aids, Abanoor is completely deaf. And though he appreciates the rationale behind a hearing test, it’s emblematic of the myriad challenges deaf people face when interfacing with a world built for hearing people.
“I understand that police officers, in the course of their work, are in dangerous situations, and being able to attend to your surroundings in as many ways as possible is useful and lifesaving,” he says. “But what police do is very visual as well, and deaf people are superlative at visual acuity. We have peripheral vision skills beyond what hearing people do, so I’m able to see things in my periphery that other people aren’t.” Abanoor uses American Sign Language, and an interpreter translated between English and ASL during an interview with a News@Northeastern reporter.
Boston isn’t unique in its requirements; municipalities across the country put would-be emergency personnel through a battery of exercises that test a range of physical abilities, including vision, hearing, strength, and mental acuity. But Abanoor, who is studying criminal justice at Northeastern University, sees room for improvement.