Saturday, 4 August 2018

Making Courts accessible.


The UK has huge issues too despite supposedly being more accessible and enlightened. Family courts e.g. can ignore access altogether, it is up to the deaf attending to demand it first if they don't they can turn up unable to follow and the decision, either way, will stand regardless.

Other issues transpire in that initially, courts banned the deaf from using interpreters they are familiar with, on the principle of bias.  This causes problems in that Interpreters who sign haven't a universal norm and not established the necessary rapport needed to ensure understanding is happening of the procedure.  'Some' courts have relaxed this, but the majority still haven't.  There are cases where a BSL terp has been engaged by the courts and the deaf clients unable to follow them properly.

A lot is down to old-fashioned deaf norms, where in fact deaf rarely if ever turned up in a  court and left their representation to social services or family instead, now, deaf expect and demand,  to be there in person.

Many deaf have issues with BSL interpreters because they use them with GP's, social workers etc and found that the very people facilitating them cannot be called upon to verify any meeting or communication effectiveness, they took part in as part of the job.  It is all legally regarded as hearsay, so litigation e.g. WITH a system an interpreter facilitated, you cannot ask the terp to prove, even if they saw/heard it, and interpreters are refusing themselves to attend courts to back clients, as they say, this would rely on memory recall.

Theoretically, if you feel an issue is there between you and the system and you use a terp to help, you would need to record it as well or there is no other proof whatever of what took place.  

There have been many issues where a terp has assisted and mail/clarification sent after proceedings that included issues that were not discussed and/or not agreed either, but there was no come-back because the system assumes you understood the support you asked for or added something else as an afterthought.

You have to agree at the time you understood everything when the amount of detail the deaf can take in is very limited.  Obviously, in stressful health and other situations deaf cease to be able to understand most.  

Ideally, deaf should make it clear at every meeting where a terp is in attendance they require a few weeks to take in what was discussed, and, an avenue to go back and revisit issues they think they missed and nothing is agreed until after that time period.

It causes delays we know, but the ignoring of the fact you HAVEN'T followed everything can have long-term implications.  Insisting on more protection for deaf people can mean systems want a better guarantee deaf are able to follow, it could suggest testing the deaf to assess capability to follow... and demanding a 'rep' that can if they fail.  

Can sign stand the acid test?  If deaf include learning difficulties and language issues, then this raises issues of representation too. Confusion would reign they cannot follow things even with their preferred means to follow, they have to prove they can follow with their preference of sign and ability to use a terp..  A terp that legally CANNOT assist you.