This post was originally featured on North of the Stupid Line.
RAD Deaf Law Centre’s stint the Solicitors Group Law 2012 was a real eye opener for me this week. An event that took place over 3 days, I was there with RAD colleagues for 2.
The conclusion I came to after my second day (Day 3) was that I am ashamed to be a part of the legal profession. Yes, you read right. Ashamed.
For such a well-educated profession, solicitors and barristers can be really stupid when it comes to Deaf people.
One solicitor asked me “how did you pass your exams?” after staring at me in shock for a few seconds when I told her I was a solicitor myself.
Another solicitor said to his colleague: “can you sign?!” when approached by us to discuss our services, suggesting that he thought we were naive enough to try and attend an event and use “sign” without any interpretation and try to communicate with delegates that way.
We had a lot of brush offs and “not interested, thank you”. Granted. we weren’t the only exhibitors to get that sort of response, but you’d have thought solicitors and barristers would have been polite, open-minded and friendly, all good skills for a professional who deals with clients every day. One even said: “I don’t want THAT”.
Needless to say, the attitudes of most made Jeff, Laura, Daniel and myself (and the interpreters) feel uncomfortable, at least initially, but as we were selling our services, couldn’t very well tell them what we thought. Words bandied around by the team included “snobbish”, “ignorant”, “unprofessional”.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though. Many’s attitude changed when they realised after listening to our sales pitch that there may be money in Deaf people after all, all in the name of making the law work for Deaf people (!).
So. I’m part of this profession. It was certainly an experience.