Focus: Pamela Cross, lawyer on the duty to accommodate the accessibility needs of people with communication disabilities.
Focus: Colin Phillips discusses communication support during legal capacity evaluations.
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 to Legal 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 legal professionals:
- Not understanding how we communicate
- Not being able to give information or ask questions in the 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 and authentically communicate
- Not being aware of how and when to engage a trained communication assistant or intermediary to assist with communication
- Deferring life changing decisions to our family member or assistant without our authorization or involvement
- Having access to insufficient communication support services such as speech language pathologists and trained communication intermediaries
Suggestions for legal professionals
In addition to generic communication access accommodations, legal professional 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
Resources for legal professionals
Suggestions for people with SLDs
- Be prepared to tell legal professionals how we communicate and what they can do to make communication go smoothly (See Communication Access Card in resources).
- We can tell the legal professional if we need someone to assist with communication. 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 additional training from CDAC who assist people communicating with police and in legal and justice situations.
Resources for people with SLDs