Legal Sign Language Interpreting

Trusted legal interpreting services to ensure the utmost accuracy of court records and enforcement of the law.

What is Legal Sign Language Interpreting?

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Imagine the fear of getting arrested in a foreign nation where the police speak a language you don’t know. You have no recourse to your rights, and you may not even be aware of what those rights are. The lawyers assigned to your case don’t appear to have the skills or fluency to effectively communicate with you during your proceedings. The situation is uncertain, and no one seems to be making any effort to ensure your equal-access.

For the Deaf community, this terrifying situation is all too real and too often happens right in their own neighborhoods. People who use ASL as their primary mode of communication face significant risks in the American legal system due to cultural misconceptions and insufficient awareness around the ADA and the rights of people with disabilities.

Without proper accommodations, those who are Deaf, Deaf-Blind, or hard-of-hearing are severely disadvantaged when they interact with a judicial system that fails to provide proper accessibility services, be it at traffic court, a lawyer’s office, or a police station. The best way to accommodate a Deaf or hard-of-hearing person who uses ASL is to hire a trained and qualified Legal Interpreter. Legal Sign Language Interpreters facilitate communication and cultural mediation between Deaf and hearing individuals in a legal setting to ensure that all parties are provided their proper rights and due process.

Who Benefits from Legal Sign Language Interpreting?

Many people who are Deaf, Deaf-blind, hard-of-hearing, or late deafened use American Sign Language (ASL), a foreign sign language, or their own unique system of gestures and home signals to communicate and navigate the world. A competent Legal Interpreter bridges the communication gap between a primarily hearing judicial system and the Deaf individuals the system aims to serve or prosecute. The Legal Sign Language Interpreter interprets all signed communication into spoken English and all spoken English into a sign language or system most readily understood by the Deaf or hard-of-hearing party. Many Legal Interpreters will advocate for the use of Certified Deaf Interpreters (CDI’s). CDI’s are native Deaf ASL users who are more adept at bridging the communication gap between hearing and Deaf parties, especially when the risk of misinterpretation is especially significant and life-altering.

The responsibility to provide a qualified Legal Interpreter is not exclusive to the courtroom. For example, attorneys are responsible for providing a qualified Legal Interpreter for their Deaf clients’ consultations, meetings, depositions, arbitrations, and other interactions. Similarly, the Courts are responsible for ensuring all client interviews, witness testimonies, and appearances before administrative or legislative bodies have a qualified Legal Interpreter on-site. Even sentencings should incorporate reasonable ADA accommodations for court-ordered treatment and educational services.

Although they are not qualified to practice law, Legal Interpreters are well educated about legal procedures, terminology, and how the justice system works. A professional sign language interpreter will understand the legal process and be readily able to translate legal documents and frozen text, such as subpoenas or the Miranda Rights. At their discretion, legal sign language interpreters may also act as advocates and cultural mediators, referring community resources and educating on accommodation best practices as relates to the impact on the rights of the Deaf person. Professional Legal Interpreters understand the roles of legal parties and authorities and are trained to respond appropriately while interacting with law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and corrections officers.

Why is Legal Sign Language Interpreting Important?

Persons who work in the judicial system often lack the sign language fluency necessary to properly communicate with Deaf, Deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing individuals. A certified Legal Interpreter bridges this communicate barrier while working with law enforcement, legal counsel, and judicial staff to uphold the rights and due process of Deaf citizens. Legal Interpreters may provide resources and education around Deaf culture, communication devices for the Deaf, communication accommodations such as CDIs, and best practices for working with an interpreter or communicating with the Deaf community. The overall intent is for the legal sign language interpreter to enable judicial procedures to happen as effectively for Deaf parties as they do for hearing parties.

To aid with communication between the various schemas of “Law Culture,” “Hearing Culture,” and “Deaf Culture,” a competent Legal Interpreter is essential. The language of the law is quite technical. Professional Legal Interpreters have a firm grasp on the meaning of legal terminology and can relay that knowledge faithfully to their Deaf and hearing clients.

Professional Legal Interpreters have unique abilities that allow them to bridge communication gaps and ensure that the Deaf, Deaf-blind, and hard-of-hearing are afforded an opportunity to fully participate in the legal process. It is impossible to overstate the value of a skilled legal interpreter, which is why the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guarantees that all persons who are Deaf have access to one.

In a situation where the meaning of a single word or phrase can have far-reaching effects on a person’s life, it is essential that all communication be conveyed accurately. It is imperative that courthouses, police stations, and attorney offices only work with qualified Legal Interpreters who prove adequately proficient in spoken language, sign language, and the legal domain. When someone’s freedom or rights are at stake, every detail counts! This is why partnering with a credible accommodations service company, such as Inclusive Communication Services, ensures that the proper accommodations are scheduled every time.

Having a competent Legal Interpreter, and when possible a Certified Deaf Interpreter, present at legal procedures and proceedings ensures the Deaf party’s equal-access to clear and accurate communication. Legal Interpreters are well-versed in the intent and language of the law and are committed to ensuring fair legal procedures in an inclusive and equally-accessible manner.

Why Choose Inclusive Communication Services for Legal Sign Language Interpreting?

Inclusive Communication Services knows how critical it is to have skilled and dependable Legal Interpreters readily available, and we work hard to meet the needs of our diverse Deaf, Deaf-blind, hard-of-hearing, and late deafened clients. ICS makes it easy to request certified Legal Interpreters with the proper knowledge and expertise required to ensure that those who are Hard-of-hearing have equal access to the judicial system.

To give the best possible service, our team of qualified Legal Sign Language Interpreters maintains a high degree of familiarity with recent court cases, legal terminology, and standard procedures. They polish their expertise in the ever-changing legal and judicial environments by participating in ongoing training and education. ICS’s professional Legal Interpreters adhere to the NAD/RID Code of Professional Conduct, uphold the confidentiality of all parties and information, and exercise due diligence to prepare for and deliver clear and accurate interpreting services in an inclusive manner.

To learn more about our Legal Interpreting Services or to schedule Legal Sign Language Interpreters for your upcoming consultation or court appearance, contact one of our accessibility service coordinators.

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