"Legal choices - silent process": engaging legal services when you do not hear

Year: 2011

Researcher: The Deaf Studies Trust

Who we spoke to: 49 adults who are deaf or hard of hearing

How we spoke to them: Face-to-face interviews

Overview

We worked alongside the Legal Services Consumer Panel and the charity Action on Hearing Loss to look at the experiences and needs of people with hearing loss when they need to use a legal service. We looked at the outcomes that people who are deaf or hard of hearing receive when they use legal services, and asked the researcher for recommendations about the best ways to improve these outcomes.

Some key findings

  • Some deaf people can feel that their legal adviser is working against them, rather than with them, due to ineffective communication
  • People who are deaf or hard of hearing can face a battle from the outset with their solicitor to get their communication preferences understood and receive the support or equipment they need
  • Some parts of the legal profession are not deaf-aware, which can create the impression of the profession not being deaf-friendly.

What we did with the results

The research highlighted a knowledge gap for legal services providers about the communication needs of deaf or hard of hearing people, and how these could be satisfied. We approached the Law Society with the conclusions of the research and some ideas for professional guidance, which have now resulted in the Law Society publishing a Practice Note focussing on bringing improvements in accessibility and service for consumers who experience impaired hearing.

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