Friday 24 January 2020

Deaf well able to serve on juries

We refer to your report of July 15 on the recent court ruling that deemed Joan Clarke, a deaf mother of two, eligible for the jury service but refused admission for the sign-language interpreter to the jury room.

We applaud the judge's ruling for removing some barriers for deaf people to serve on the juries. We applaud Ms Clarke for taking a stand in the first place. But there is a troublesome issue arising from this ruling.

The widely held belief, as identified in the article, is that the purpose of employing an interpreter is to assist the deaf person.

In fact, interpreters are employed to translate between two parties or more where there are two or more languages used.

We believe the attitude that the interpreter is there to assist deaf people is to undermine the integrity and abilities of a deaf person. This further undermines the value of action taken by Ms Clarke.

Ms Clarke said on record that she wanted to show how civic-minded and able she could be.

We in the Irish Deaf Society actively encourage the public to accept the idea that deaf people are well able to participate in society independently. The barriers should not be seen as linked to their 'deafness' but the failure of society to accommodate their differences.

Carmel Grehan
Irish Deaf Society,
Blessington Street, Dublin 7

Irish Independent

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