Sometimes people commit crimes, or people are hurt by crime. Also, some people witness crimes. In any of these situations, a judge may ask them to share their experience in court. What if the person is deaf? How will they communicate in court? Poor communication in court can send an innocent person to jail or let a guilty person free. Meanwhile, accommodating deaf people’s communication needs can prevent these consequences. This toolkit guides lawyers in helping deaf people communicate well in court.
A UK organization, The Advocate’s Gateway, published this guide in 2018. The Advocate’s Gateway is a volunteer organization that provides free publications. Their publications guide UK lawyers (advocates) on working with vulnerable witnesses and defendants. Thus, the publication is most appropriate for legal experts in the UK court system. Lawyers in other countries would need to adapt its advice for local laws and processes. Also, people in other countries would need to consult local deaf organizations. For example, some countries do not yet have a process to certify sign interpreters for court. Deaf organizations in your country are best able to explain these and other limitations. Furthermore, local deaf organizations can help brainstorm solutions to help deaf people communicate in court.
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