Employment Tribunals & Access for Deaf People

In October 2004, the Employment Tribunal has produced a Guidance for tribunal users who are deaf or hard of hearing.

The Guidance can also be downloaded from Employment Tribunals Online website, spefically here.

Firstly, the title of the document implies that the interpreter is there for Deaf people only, and does not acknowledge the two way process of interpreting, and the fact that an interpreter is for the benefit of both parties.

Secondly, a rather worrying statement from the document:

Many deaf people have a friend or relative who interprets for them. If you want them to translate for you, the chairman must be satisfied that your friend or relative can accurately translate what you are saying and what is being said to you.

Whilst this paragraph recognises that there may be some fault in using a member of the family or a friend, unless the Chair is familiar with

a) translation / interpreting issues;
b) is able to operate within two languages and is familiar with two cultures;

how are they best placed to judge this situation? In addition, will they be aware that the knowledge of a language does not qualify one to interpret, and possibly introduce bias to the proceedings? Will they be familiar with language and interpreting structures?