Legal Services For Hearing Impaired: Warnings Issued

With nearly 10 million people in the UK who have some sort of hearing problem, it is important to understand the devastating effects what legal aid cuts would have for those legal resources for the hearing impaired.

A story has been published which argues that hearing-aid wearers are being let down by lawyers and the legal system who try to give deaf people a hearing and the right to be heard.

The report details “terrible” stories of solicitors denying hearing impaired people access to interpreters and simply not understanding the different ways they need to communicate with people with a hearing loss, i.e. through a hearing loop, learning British Sign language or by writing a letter differently.

And warnings are being issued that due to government spending cuts, that legal aid cuts could worsen the situation for the hearing impaired community. Law firms may be prohibited in affording the offer of legal advice, as well as the costs of interpreters.

RAD Legal Services Head, Rob Wilkes who has been dead since birth, says that the legal system is simply not geared to the needs of deaf people.

A report in 2009 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that the advice system of CABs, law societies, union sources and private firms of solicitors “are often still inaccessible to profoundly deaf customers”.

The Equality Act 2010 requires service providers to make adjustments to ensure that a disabled person can use a service as close as it is reasonably possible to the standard usually offered to non-disabled people. So this means that a touch screen kiosk should be accessible to the blind and wheel-chair users; as well as the legal system being comprehensible to those hearing impaired.

There are law firms around the country that are committed to become deaf-aware to help people by offering advice to the hard of hearing and meeting the legal needs of deaf people. Cases can include employment, welfare benefits, discrimination and housing.

If you wear a hearing aid like a resound alera or unitron passport and find yourself struggling to get legal advice, tell us of your experience! Get in touch today!

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