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Communication Access to Justice

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Increasingly, Speech-Language Pathologists and Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) clinicians are being asked to participate within the justice system, either as expert witnesses or as communication intermediaries to assist with communication. This is a positive direction as communication disability professionals can contribute a wealth of knowledge, and skills about the communication abilities and needs of victims, witnesses, and accused persons who have speech and language disabilities. Without appropriate information and supports people with complex communication needs (CCN) are at high risk for miscarriages of justice, experiencing ongoing abuses and crimes, and having their human rights severely compromised. Yet, despite the critical role that communication plays within the criminal justice system, few communication disability professionals have formal training or guidelines to work within these situations. This presentation will explore various models, roles and responsibilities of a communication disability professional when working within the justice system. Using a combination of case studies and discussion topics, the authors will address:

•International models of communication support within justice contexts
•Roles of an expert witness and a communication intermediary
•Practice guidelines and training for communication intermediaries
•Engagement of communication intermediaries and expert witnesses
•Embedding communication access supports within the justice system

As this is an evolving community of practice, the authors will engage participants in discussion, highlight resources and make recommendations for future directions regarding improved communication access to justice services for people with CCN.

Author(s):

Barbara Collier    
Communication Disabilities Access Canada
Canada

Howard Shane    
Boston Children's Hospital
United States

Diane Bryen    
Temple University
United States

 

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