Journal Article

Your Case Will Now Be Heard: Sign Language Interpreters as Problematic Accommodations in Legal Interactions

Jeremy L. Brunson

in The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education

Volume 13, issue 1, pages 77-91
Published in print January 2008 | ISSN: 1081-4159
Published online June 2007 | e-ISSN: 1465-7325 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enm032
Your Case Will Now Be Heard: Sign Language Interpreters as Problematic Accommodations in Legal Interactions

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This paper uses data from open-ended, videotaped interviews with 12 deaf people to examine their experiences negotiating access during interactions with legal authorities. In every case, these deaf persons preferred an accommodation that involved the use of an American Sign Language interpreter, and in every case, these accommodations were problematic. Three major themes emerged from the informants' narratives: difficulty obtaining the desired accommodation, dealing with a problematic accommodation, and enduring a partial accommodation. These findings suggest that accommodations involving sign language interpreters are not neutral and transparent and that they often have tangible effects on the experiences of and outcomes for deaf persons in the context of dealing with legal matters. Deaf people have very little control over the accommodation they receive and yet are held fully responsible for ensuring its efficacy. These results are discussed in relation to policies and procedures for ensuring that deaf persons have full access in their interactions with American legal institutions.

Journal Article.  10116 words. 

Subjects: Education ; Linguistics ; Teaching of Specific Groups and Special Educational Needs

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