Focus: People with communication disabilities may require supports when accessing legal and justice services.
Focus: An interview about the need for accessible legal and justice services for people with communication disabilities.
This section includes information for the judicial system, courts, tribunals, hearings, victim witness services.
The following information is intended to provide a starting point to improve access to services for people with Speech and Language Disabilities (SLDs), not caused by hearing loss. It is, by no means a full comprehensive list of barriers or accommodations. It presents some of the unique challenges that people with SLDs may experience within this situation.
Contact us for more information on making your services accessible.
Sample Communication Access Barriers within Justice Services
Many of us who have Speech and Language Disabilities (SLDs), experience the same barriers as people who have mobility, sensory and other disabilities. In addition, we may experience unique communication barriers due to our speech and language disability. These barriers may include justice professionals:
- Not being aware of accessibility requirements of people with SLDs and how to negotiate these with victims, witnesses, and accused
- Not being able to give information or ask questions in ways we can understand and/or answer
- Not understanding the difference between cognitive capacity, language and communication skills
- Not using strategies and communication supports to ensure we can effectively communicate
- Not knowing how and when to engage a trained communication assistant or intermediary to assist with communication
- Relying on untrained communication assistants in situations that require an arms-length, trained communication intermediary
- Not being able to recognize and judge the accuracy and authorship of our messages
- Insufficient communication support services such as speech language pathologists and trained communication intermediaries
Suggestions for Justice Professionals
In addition to generic communication access accommodations, people who work in justice services should have:
- Training and information on communicating with those of us who have SLDs
- Information about how and when to engage a communication intermediary to assist with communication
- Consistent policies, procedures and practices to negotiate and provide communication access to services for victims, witnesses and accused who have SLDs
- Work with the communication disability community to develop local and immediate access to communication intermediary services
- Information on how to record non-verbal testimony and evidence
Resources for justice Professionals
Suggestions for People with SLDs
- We can learn about our rights and what to do if we feel our rights are being violated or if we are being abused. In addition, we can learn about our options for dealing with abuse, crimes and violation of rights and what happens when we report abuse to the police
- If we are going to court, we can learn about what happens and our right to have communication accommodations and supports if we need them.
- We can be prepared to tell justice professionals how we communicate and what they can do to make communication go smoothly (See Communication Access Card in resources)
- We can tell the justice professional if we need someone to assist us communicating with them. If we have someone we trust, we can ask the legal professional to call that person. We can also ask him or her to get a communication intermediary to assist us. Communication intermediaries are speech language pathologists with addition training from CDAC who assist people communicating with police and in legal and justice situations.
- We can have vocabulary and pictures to communicate about our safety, rights, crimes and abuses
Resources for people with SLDs