Deaf people’s access to justice – Conversation Across the Atlantic

Neill McDevitt (DHCC) and Brian Morrison

Neill McDevitt (DHCC) and Brian Morrison

As part of the JUSTISIGNS project, Interesource Group was part of a dissemination event at Swarthmore College, Pennsylvania, USA hosted by the Department of Linguistics and the Deaf Hearing Community Center (DHCC). The aim of the event was to share good practices and discuss issues pertaining to Deaf people’s access to justice through signed language interpretation.

One of the key areas of concern is the lack of awareness amongst legal professionals whose client is Deaf and who have little understanding about Deaf cultural norms which affect the communication process when there is a sign language interpreter present. The key aspects discussed the triadic relationship that exists between the client (Deaf person) the service provider (i.e the legal professional) and the sign language interpreter. Each party to this three-way exchange has a role to play. Each party must be certain of one another’s function and this is the key to ensuring effective communication between the parties present.

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