The Law Society of Upper Canada is doing research into access to the profession and disability. There was a call on Surduslaw earlier for Deaf lawyers to contribute to this research, and from an international perspective, I hope this happens. Any research relating to access to the profession is valuable, and comparative approaches can be drawn upon internationally.
On the 1 October 2004, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (Amendment) Regulations 2003 come into force. Amongst other provisions, it provides for non-discrimination in respect of barristers. The relevant sections are below, for information.
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published a report ‘Using interpreters to access services: user views’.
Whilst this is aimed at spoken language interpreting, and unfortunately this does not cover BSL/English Interpreting, JRF says this is an in-depth study examined the experiences of people who need interpreters.
What is startling about this research is two key findings:
– People mostly prefer family or friends to interpret for them.
– The researchers conclude that training in the basics of interpreting should be made more widely available to members of minority ethnic communities who regularly act as interpreters for family members or friends.
This is research which is heavily user-led, and whilst users have preferences it fails to acknowledge that there are two users in an interpreting process. Secondly, that users might not necessarily understand the dynamics and complexities around the interpreting process, therefore might not be best placed to judge if something is being interpreted well. It is one of those situations whereby end user experience is brought into question; and this very much exists within the Deaf community. There is also the assertion that ‘basic training’ will suffice.
In terms of Deaf people and this research, what is springs to mind is that such research findings could be used to justify family members (with little or no formal qualifications) being used in legal situations.