Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Signing Santa !

Already !!!

State appeals judgment for deaf litigant denied interpreter

Image result for justiceThe state of Indiana is appealing a federal court ruling that a deaf Indianapolis man was discriminated against when he was denied an interpreter for a court-ordered mediation session in his child custody case.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office filed a notice of appeal Friday and will challenge the ruling in favor of Dustin King at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeal. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson ruled in May that Marion County courts discriminated against King and violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying him an interpreter to participate in the federally funded modest means mediation program.

King ultimately participated in the mediation with the assistance of a family member who could interpret American Sign Language. Magnus-Stinson wrote that Marion County’s offer to waive the mediation requirement was not a reasonable accommodation, and that the court acted with deliberate indifference in denying a qualified interpreter to which King was entitled under Title II of the ADA.

Magnus-Stinson previously rejected the state’s request for an interlocutory appeal and last month awarded King $10,000 in compensatory damages for emotional distress and $380 in attorney fees for the process of requesting an interpreter through the court.

King is entitled to legal fees for prevailing in this action before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana. 

Deafness is shameful...

Diarmuid Laverty who volunteered in Kenya's deaf communityA deaf Co Londonderry teenager travelled to Africa to help kids whose hearing impairment is perceived as a punishment from God. He tells Stephanie Bell how volunteering is helping to break down taboos.

Magherafelt teenager Diarmuid Laverty knows the challenge of living every day without hearing - but nothing prepared him for the horror of spending the summer in a country where deafness is considered a curse from God and children are ostracised because they cannot hear.

Diarmuid (19), who has started the second year of a degree in psychology with criminology at Manchester Metropolitan University, has just returned from three months volunteering among the deaf community in Nandi County in rural Kenya.

Poverty and prejudice mean deaf children in Nandi are often ignored and receive little support at school. Deafness is a source of shame for families and many parents don't know any Kenyan Sign Language (KSL) to enable them to communicate with their own children.

Diarmuid flew to the region to try and help to change this by volunteering with a new initiative in Kenya run by the International Citizen Service (ICS), in association with the deaf charity Deafway. ICS is funded by the UK government and managed by leading international development charity VSO.

He taught KSL to parents of deaf children so they could have a full conversation with their child for the first time. He also helped them access support for their children and taught local hospital staff KSL so they can support the deaf community more in future.

Alongside nine other people from the UK and 11 Kenyan co-volunteers, who are also deaf, Diarmuid also helped stage a deaf awareness march on September 16, which brought around 100 deaf and hearing people together from all over Nandi to fight for the rights of deaf people and bring an end to the discrimination.

"Disability in Kenya is quite stigmatised. Some people think that disability is a punishment from God or a curse. Some parents feel so embarrassed and ashamed that they hide their deaf children away," he says.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Deaf and the Jury Laws...

Various groups are excluded in many countries including the UK, Ireland and Australia because of legal prohibitions. In the UK and Ireland, for example, deaf people are deemed “incapable” of serving as jurors if they need an interpreter, since interpreters are not permitted in the jury room. Blind people, meanwhile, are usually excluded at the judge’s discretion because they can’t read the court materials.

The law for both groups is similar in Australia and was recently confirmed by a final appeal decision in the Australian High Court regarding a deaf woman named Gaye Lyons who needs an interpreter even though she can read lips. She took legal action after she had been excluded from serving on a jury in Queensland in 2012.

In a decision that will potentially influence courts in the UK and other jurisdictions, the court held that Ms Lyons had not been discriminated against. It said the problem was in fact a lack of legislative provision for deaf people and could therefore only be addressed by politicians.

Lyons’ case is now being referred by the activist group People With Disability Australia to the UN Committee to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The UN committee already condemned two other legal decisions earlier this year to exclude deaf people from juries in New South Wales in Australia in 2012. Meanwhile, the British Deaf Association has been actively lobbying for deaf people to serve as jurors in the UK.

As things stand, however, it looks like this strange situation is more likely to be changed by politicians than judges – whether in Australia or the UK. As one of the people spearheading research into deaf jurors, there is certainly plenty of evidence as to why it should change. I am not aware of any equivalent work into blind people but some of the same observations would almost certainly be applicable.

For deaf jurors, there’s no comprehension issue. I helped establish that legal facts and concepts can be conveyed in sign language effectively enough for deaf people to access court proceedings and legal texts as well as hearing people. Deaf jurors will misunderstand certain terms and concepts, but no more than anyone else.

A survey of legal professionals and sign language interpreters from various countries in 2013 subsequently found that those in jurisdictions that already allowed deaf jurors tended to be more comfortable with having them. Having said that, respondents didn’t have a problem with deaf jurors in principle and thought they could serve successfully as long as there were clear supportive policies and guidelines and training for interpreters and court staff.

"... the problem was in fact a lack of legislative provision for deaf people and could therefore only be addressed by politicians"

A final study in which I have been involved – which is not yet published – explored a simulated trial involving a deaf juror with interpreters in Australia. The deaf juror participated effectively and was a key contributor in the deliberations. The other hearing jurors overwhelmingly said they weren’t aware of the interpreters being engaged in the process or airing their opinions about the case. They saw them as neutral and not affecting the deliberation process.

In feedback sessions earlier this year, judges, lawyers, jury managers and people from deaf organisations agreed the evidence shows there is no social or linguistic impediment to deaf jurors in principle. The legal professionals did believe that the right to a fair trial should override the right to do your civic duty as a juror. They said that providing interpreters would be complex, but was achievable with careful planning. The increasing use of video conference technology was specifically mentioned as a way to provide access to interpreters more easily.

Overall, the evidence strongly suggests that deaf people should be able to serve as jurors – and it is hard to imagine any good reasons not to extend blind people the same rights. It’s time the law was changed in the UK, Ireland and Australia to make this possible. Other countries already permit these kinds of people to serve, including New Zealand and most US states.

The governments and law reform commissions in the UK, Ireland and Australia are all considering this issue at present: it’s high time they took it forward.

Australian Deaf History Book...

Demand for more terps and captions...

Always refreshing to see campaigns approached in a unified manner, please, others follow.

Access to local government and jobs is lagging for the hearing impaired in Sioux Falls.

That’s the message a group of hearing impaired Sioux Falls residents were spreading this week during a rally for Deaf Grassroots Movement (DGM) South Dakota in front of Carnegie Town Hall. They say city government needs to be more inclusive to the deaf community and that means providing more interpreters at official proceedings and make closed captioning available when viewing public meetings online.

“Though great strides have been made for many people with disabilities, the deaf and hard of hearing community often feels left out,” said Barry Carpenter, a 59-year-old truck driver who’s been hearing impaired his whole life. “Ramps and elevators are now commonplace and … braille and auditory accommodations are often made available for those with vision impairments. But accessible communication for many deaf and hard of hearing people is often an afterthought or simply not made available."

Thursday’s rally made Sioux Falls one of 118 cities across the country to hold awareness demonstrations this year to shine a light on what Carpenter and DGM say is a lack of communication access and barriers in employment and education that deaf and hard of hearing people face every day.

According to DGM, 70 percent of deaf Americans are unemployed or underemployed, in part because employers are hesitant to hire an interpreter to assist in the interview process. And if a deaf person is hired, employers are worried about future interpreter expenses, said Rick Norris, executive director of InterpreCorps, an American sign language interpreting agency.

Nationwide launches online sign language service..

This is a BSL service, it is not an access medium for 11m HI.

SignVideo Live will allow British Sign Language (BSL) users to take full advantage of the services that Nationwide has to offer. 

The free service can be accessed via a link on Nationwide’s website ( which will enable customers who are deaf and hard of hearing to access a BSL interpreter through video. From here, the interpreter will connect the customer to the customer services helpline, relaying the call live like any regular call.

Currently there are 11 million people confronting deafness and hearing loss in the UK, with approximately 150,000 BSL users. This emphasises the need for a customer experience where those who use BSL can confidently and independently manage their finances.

Video relay service is becoming increasingly popular in the customer services industry and complements Nationwide’s goal to provide an all-inclusive service for its customers. Available on computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, the service is easily accessible in whichever way the customer chooses to use it.

Lost CI...

LOST: 11-year-old Harvey Bancks has lost his cochlear implant
A MOTHER has appealed for people to keep a look out for her son’s lost hearing implant.

Harvey Bancks has been deaf since birth and had cochlear implants at 18 months and then again at seven years old to help him hear.

He started at Canon Slade School in September but on his walk home to Bromley Cross last week he lost one of the £5,500 implants which is usually attached to the side of his head.

Mum Lisa Bancks said: “When it is throwing it down with rain I tell him to take one out because they are not waterproof. Obviously he has to keep one in because he needs to hear traffic. So he took the right one off and somewhere between school and home he has lost it.”

The implants which 11-year-old Harvey has on both sides of his head are like a hearing aid with a wire that goes to a small disk.If anyone has found it they can contact Mrs Bancks HERE.