Deaf News: Double breakthrough in court system for Deaf people

Posted on July 1, 2014

Two recent court cases have led to developments which may help more deaf people to be treated fairly when they access the justice system.

In the first case, which was reported in the Law Gazette, a trial in which the alleged victim, defendant and witnesses were all deaf and use sign language was filmed so that any misunderstandings could be resolved quickly.

As the article says:

During the proceedings, a video crew recorded the signers – people translating the spoken word into sign language – so that, should a dispute over meaning arise, evidence could quickly be reviewed and the uncertainty resolved. Courts in previous cases involving deaf people had refused access to film crews.

Liz Sargeant of London firm Needham Poulier, acting for one of the defendants, said: ‘Complications arose from lexical differences between signing and the spoken word. For example, the words ‘assault’ and ‘translation’ are too abstract to be translated into sign language. This makes any written transcript of the proceedings almost worthless.

‘Happily, the judge in the case, HHJ Wilkinson, allowed a film crew into the court. This was a far-sighted decision because courts in previous cases had refused to allow filming. It was a big step forward for disability rights and, we hope, all cases regarding deaf people’s evidence will be recorded in future.’

In the second case, the of Court of Appeal decided that all family court cases involving a Deaf person must now include expert analysis and support around the impact of Deafness from a skilled professional.

The judgement was issued  as a result of proceedings earlier this year involving a Deaf couple who were challenging a full care order given to a local authority in respect of their daughter.

A full summary of the Court of Appeal ruling can be read in Family Law Week:

The second of these stories was sent to us by Deaf Parenting UK (DPUK), which is a charity that provides specialised support for Deaf Parents and can offer specialist caseworkers to provide one-to one support, or for advocacy to support casework with individual Deaf parents and their families. For information about Deaf Parenting UK Specialist Parenting Support, please contact Nicole Campbell, Families Project Coordinator:

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Posted in: deaf news