Brown bill to protect people with developmental disabilities through ID designation receives hearing

On Monday the Senate Transportation Committee heard testimony on Sen. Sharon Brown’s bill to create a voluntary designation on state licenses and identicards for those with developmental disabilities.

“This measure could prove crucial to aiding first responders in the event of an accident,” said Brown, R-Kennewick. “If a caregiver is injured and unable to speak, there could be a misunderstanding with a child or adult who has a disability and may be noncommunicative. We don’t ever want to create a situation where someone who is noncommunicative is mistaken for being noncompliant. This bill would create a designation to help make sure that such an individual gets the proper care and attention he or she may need.”

Senate Bill 6429 would allow a person with a developmental disability to apply to the Department of Licensing to obtain a DD designation on a driver’s license or identicard. The DD designation would be provided at no additional cost beyond regular driver’s license or identicard fees.

Sharon Adolphson with the Benton Franklin Parent Coalition and her daughter, Kendra Olson, are the inspiration for the bill.

“I’m a mom, but my daughter is 34, and nonverbal,” Adolphson told committee members. “My fear is that if we got in a car wreck and we were hit on my side, and I got knocked out, what would happen? I can guarantee that she wouldn’t sit and have a conversation with someone or give her name. If I had an ID with a note on it that indicated she has a developmental disability, it would make it easier on her, or on me.

“It would allow everyone [to have] an extra tool in the parents’ toolbox to help their child in those types of situations.”

Diana Stadden, with the Arc of Washington State, also testified in support of the bill. Her son, who has autism, has had interactions with the police; she said that having a card has been important to deescalating those interactions.

“We are very much in favor of this bill,” said Stadden. “I’ve had to create a card for my son, for when he is home without me, and I’ve instructed him to sit quietly and hand the card to the officer.”

SB 6429 also has the support of the Parent Coalition of Grant, Adams, and Lincoln counties.

The bill must clear the Transportation Committee by Feb. 11, the deadline for bills to be voted out of the fiscal committees in order to be eligible for passage during the 2020 session.