Access for deaf clients

In the ABA Journal eReport there is an article about the recent American case of United States of America and City of Bismarck, North Dakota (which settled out of court).

It transpires that the position in the USA in relation to lawyers’ duty to provide an interpreter for their clients is similar to that in the UK.

I quote from the article:

A trend common in the UK is the charges of BSL/English interpreters being pased on by law firms with a Legal Help franchise to the certificate of public funding. However, the Legal Services Commission?s current position is that they will not pay the cost of BSL/English Interpreters.
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EU Written Declaration on Deafblind People

Deafblindness is now a distinct disability, recognised by the European Union. A written declaration has been signed by 323 members, ensuring that the declaration was adapted on the 1 April 2004.

This has to be a significant move for Deafblind people across the EU, who may not necessary enjoy distinct recognition of their needs in their respective countries, and may too frequently get clumped with Deaf or blind people.

The declaration calls for access plus the right for Communicator-Guides.

From a legal perspective, one would hope this is the first step in exercising EU legal instruments, and a directive is eventually issued.

However, it is recognised as a positive step and it can be utilised by deafblind people across the EU, to push for enhanced provision in their own countries. For it to be simply forgotten about, as what happened with sign languages, would be simply shooting opportunity in the foot.

Clare Norriss: YSG Pro Bono Finalist

Clare_Norriss.jpgCongratuations to Clare Norriss who has reached the Young Solicitor’s Group Pro Bono Awards finalist stage.

Clare works for Beachcroft Wansbroughs, and commenced her volunteering as a trainee. She attends evening surgeries at Wandsworth & Merton Law Centre and is on the Centre?s Management Committee. Clare has been a driving force in the inclusion of mediation in the services offered. She also advises at the Tooting surgery ?local solicitor? evenings and played an instrumental role in the establishment of the Law Centre?s Putney advice surgery in 2000 enlisting her then colleagues at Capsticks to join the rota so that a viable service was established. She has developed a specialism in providing legal help to deaf people, and in her spare time is studying sign language.

It is National Pro Bono Week from 7 – 11 June 2004.

Clare has worked with Rob Wilks for a number of months now on individual cases for Deaf clients, and also in setting up a partnership between RAD and WMLC to provide an evening surgery once a month for Deaf clients. They’ve also worked together on the Blind and Deaf Legal Access Project, which has the ultimate aim of setting up the first Deaf Law Centre in the UK.

The amount of dedication Clare has to working with Deaf people is nothing short of astonishing. A Level 2 BSL student herself, Clare’s understanding of d/Deaf issues has grown in an admirable way; she acknowledges that the people who know about Deafies are Deafies themselves, and is convinced that what the Deaf community needs are Deaf lawyers.