Is sign language an officially recognized language in the courts?


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In detail

34.3% of respondents replied Yes, and 32.2% affirmed sign language is either only recognised in some courts, people with hearing impairment have no right to translators, or there are no translators provided by the state. The underlying problems beneath the lack of access to justice for people with disability were pointed out in several key arguments:

  • The lack of availability of interpreters in courts is generally due to a lack of training opportunities in the field of justice or disability, and to costs of interpretation which depend either on the courts of justices’ financial resources or on the individual’s own financial capacity to afford them.
  • Where sign language is legally recognised, most countries claim only very few public bodies provide assistance. They claim it is not common practise and there no measures in place to ensure adequate sign language interpretation assistance in courts. Instead, informal translation services are engaged.
  • Countries from the 32.2% which answered Yes, with qualifications indicated that a key reason for no implementation mechanisms of sign language in courts lies in the understanding of sign language as a communication tool rather than as a language itself, thereby hindering actions to improve access to justice for people with disability
  • Several developing countries revealed that conflicts of languages within the country prevent a consistent framework for recognising and implementing sign language in courts of justice