Deaf Law Quality Mark

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As part of RAD Deaf Law Centre’s (RAD DLC) mission to “make the law work for Deaf people”, they have established the Deaf Law Quality Mark to clarify access requirements for Deaf clients to ensure that law firms, Law Centres, chambers and other bodies delivering legal services have a clear understanding of what is expected of them in order to deliver high quality legal services to Deaf people.

The Deaf Law Quality Mark considers whether they and educational institutions are actively recruiting and supporting Deaf individuals keen to embark on a career in the legal profession as part of their recruitment policy and procedures.

In doing so, RAD DLC strives to achieve access to legal services for Deaf clients, ultimately removing the barriers faced by Deaf people in accessing legal advice as highlighted in the “Legal Choices – Silent Process” report commissioned by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Legal Services Consumer Panel and Action on Hearing Loss. They also hope to increase the numbers of Deaf individuals working within the legal profession either as solicitors, barristers, legal executives or otherwise.

The Deaf Law Quality Mark has been endorsed by the Solicitors Regulation Authority:

“New initiatives like RAD Law Centre’s Deaf Law Quality Mark are to be welcomed. By encouraging legal services providers to improve their awareness of needs and communication preferences of D/deaf people, I hope that we can see more of the barriers they can currently face being dismantled, leading to legal services that can be delivered to, and experienced by, consumers in a more inclusive way.”

Antony Townsend, CEO, Solicitors Regulation Authority

For more information, go here.

Reasonable adjustments

This post was originally featured on North of the Stupid Line.

I thought it would be useful to set out the position in relation to the Equality Act 2010’s duty to make reasonable adjustments imposed on service providers.

Let’s make one thing clear: hospitals (and any other medical services such as GP surgeries, physiotherapists etc., regardless of whether it’s free or private) do and have an obligation to make reasonable adjustments for Deaf patients. Don’t let them tell you otherwise.

The duty to make reasonable adjustments is not always clear cut, but as a general rule, adjustments have to be made by a service provider as long as it is reasonable.

What is reasonable depends on the particular circumstances of each and every case, but it will take into consideration:

  • The financial resources of the service provider AS A WHOLE (ie not individual departments for instance);
  • How practical it is to make the adjustments;
  • The costs of the adjustment; and
  • The availability of external funding or grants.

We all know that NHS Trusts, Primary Care Trusts (or GP Consortia as they are now known) and other medical services have budgets that run into millions of pounds, so the last thing you should expect to hear is: “Oh, we can’t afford it!”.

The key message is this: informed consent. It is paramount that medical professionals obtain patients’ (or their next of kin) consent before embarking on any medical procedure unless the threat to their life or well being requires immediate intervention. A failure to do so opens up the NHS Trust or equivalent to legal action on the grounds of negligence.

It therefore baffles me why I see this issue cropping up time and time again; medical professionals or their staff routinely failing to provide interpreters. It’s for their benefit as well as Deaf patients. Also they can communicate effectively with the patient to find out their history, ails, pains, difficulties in order to provide the best treatment for them. You’d think medical professionals would WANT interpreters present all the time.

What is the cause of this innate inability or unwillingness to provide interpreters and make life that much easier for Deaf patients? Does the Hippocratic oath not matter to them? Don’t they CARE about their patients? Are NHS staff really so disillusioned working within the NHS that they no longer give a shit about patient care and obtaining consent? What makes them think they know what’s best for Deaf people?

I would strongly urge you to sign the Give Deaf patients access to appropriately qualified sign language interpreters petition. I have.

Equality Act gains royal assent

17 February 2006 11:47

The Equality Act has gained royal assent, paving the way for a new ‘one-stop shop’ for advice on employers’ and individuals’ rights and duties under discrimination law.

Under the Act, the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) will bring together the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission from October 2007.

The Commission for Racial Equality will join in 2009, putting expertise on equality, diversity and human rights all in one place.

The CEHR will be required to produce a regular ‘equality health check’ for the UK and to work with individuals, communities, businesses and public services to find new, more effective ways to combat discrimination.

The Act also introduces a new gender duty, which will require public bodies to take account of the different needs of men and women to ensure equality of opportunity when preparing policies or providing services.

Meg Munn, deputy minister for women and equality, said the Equality Act marked a transformation in the way modern Britain tackles discrimination.

“The CEHR will be a powerful body dedicated to fighting discrimination, prejudice and inequality and promoting fairness for everyone,” she said.

Arguments still remain over whether a single equality Act should be created to support the work of the CEHR.

The public sector is pressing for a single equality Act to bring all the present discrimination law together to ensure that all the groups covered by the CEHR have the same degree of protection from discrimination.

However, the CBI said employers would strongly oppose the creation of a single Act.

Neil Bentley, the CBI’s head of public services and diversity and a member of the CEHR taskforce, said: “Rushing towards a single equality Act could be an attempt to rush through a one-size-fits-all approach, with all rights and duties raised to the highest common denominator.”