Sign language interpreters will bridge the communication gap in courts ©

Disability Insider

June 2021

With support from the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) programme, a directory of sign language interpreters was developed in Anambra state. The initiative aims to bridge the communication gap between justice institutions and the disability community. 

Despite key legislations that protect vulnerable groups, many cases of sexual and domestic violence against persons with disabilities are often unreported due to communication barriers with justice institutions and service providers. 

The directory will facilitate the speedy access to trained and knowledgeable sign language interpreters. It contains the contact details and level of proficiency of 40 interpreters who have been trained on key legislations.

It is intended that the interpreters will be contacted by service providers to provide communication support to persons with disabilities seeking justice; and be able to confidently refer cases of sexual abuse and other human rights violations to service providers. 

On 14 April 2021, the directory was presented to the Anambra state service providers and justice partners. Representatives of the Chief Judge, the Attorney General, the Commissioner for Women Affairs, and other state functionaries were in attendance.

The Special Adviser to the Governor on Disability Affairs pledged the commitment of the state to sustain this initiative by funding the activities of the interpreters. The Deaf Community Service Department of the Special Adviser’s office (+234 9036412791) ws  designated to respond to requests for services of interpreters. 

The initiative is already having an impact. An interpreter was recently deployed to the Ntasi Sexual Assault Referral Centre to help survivors. 

“The hospitals were not able to treat my pain because they couldn’t understand my explanations. See how you have speedily attended to me.” 

Quote from a hearing-impaired survivor at the Ntasi Sexual Assault Referral Centre on the sign language services received 

“This directory will help address many of the frustrations experienced in the courts.” 

Vivian Udedike, representative of the Chief Judge, Anambra state