By Steve Tawa

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia City Council is working with city departments, agencies and non-profits to raise awareness about the barriers deaf and hard-of-hearing folks confront in their daily lives.

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City Councilman Dennis O’Brien organized a meeting to review policies and programs that would give deaf and hard-of-hearing Philadelphians the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers.

“I think what we want to do is make Philadelphia the first disability-friendly city on the planet,” he said.

O’Brien’s Director of Human Services and Special Initiatives, Katy Kaplan, points to four deaf women in the Frankford section of the city who allegedly were harassed by their landlord because of their disability, and then became victims of a crime:

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“She blamed them for being deaf, and that’s why they were robbed,” says Kaplan.

Executive Director Kelvyn Anderson of the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission says the Human Relations Commission is looking into the landlord and the Department is trying to determine whether a responding officer could have been more helpful:

“As you would imagine, whether someone is a victim of a crime or they’re being arrested, there’s a need for interpretive services.’

The non-profit Deaf-Hearing Communication Centre, which provides sign language interpreters for public meetings, is partnering with the city on developing best practices to engage the deaf, hard-of-hearing and deaf-blind community.

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