Deaf Legal Access Group pulls a crowd

MORE than 100 people attended the launch conference of the Deaf Legal Access Group in Leeds last Tuesday.

The group, which now looks likely to become a national body, aims to improve legal services to deaf people.

Its plans include the setting up of a register of deaf-friendly legal service providers, becoming a centre for information, campaigning on deaf issues, and facilitating deaf awareness training.

Founder Jessica Penrose, of Leeds solicitors Harrison Bundey & Co, said the group now hoped to set itself up as a national organisation with an “official stamp”, which members could use to show they catered for the needs of deaf people.

Offers to set up regional groups came from 11 lawyers around the country, including Newcastle, Southampton and the Midlands.

Penrose said the response had been “amazing”, but that “there is still very little understanding of the communication needs of deaf people in the legal profession.”

At the conference, Maureen Reed, Research Fellow at the Durham University Deaf Studies Research Unit, spoke about access to justice in the courtroom, and Douglas Silas, a freelance writer and trainee solicitor with David Levene & Co Solicitors, London, offered advice on the ways lawyers could improve services to deaf clients.