To coincide with Deaf Awareness Week, a survey by Royal Association for Deaf (RAD) Deaf Law Centre (DLC) has found that 85% of Deaf people would prefer to speak directly to a legal advisor who uses British Sign Language (BSL) rather than through a BSL interpreter.
The statistics were gathered as part of a wider report which aims to increase understanding of how Deaf people prefer to receive legal advice.
Rob Wilks, Director of Legal Services, said: “the statistics prove that specialist legal advice from a solicitor who uses BSL is vital in order for Deaf people to be able to fully understand what can be very complex legal language – talking person to person rather than through a third party.
“At the Deaf Law Centre, as well as in-person advice, we use webcam portals so that a Deaf person anywhere in the country can receive legal advice from a solicitor who uses BSL.”
In response to the survey findings RAD Deaf Law Centre has launched a website to offer law firms and legal advice services the opportunity to learn five BSL phrases a day for the duration of Deaf Awareness Week: http://www.deaflawcentre.org.uk/deafawareness.
Wilks said: “We hope the website will be a fun way for law firms to celebrate Deaf Awareness Week, as well as raising awareness of the needs of Deaf people and encouraging firms to train legal advisers in BSL to ensure that Deaf people have as equal access to legal services as hearing people.”