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The Right to Be Heard- Access to Justice in Israel for people who use AAC

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Abstract :

The Right to be Heard

In order to provide an appropriate response and facilitate access to the judicial world by persons with disabilities, in 2005 Israel passed the Investigation and Testimony Procedural Act (Accommodations for Persons with Mental or Cognitive Disabilities). This groundbreaking law empowered special youth investigators from the Service for Investigating Minors and Special Investigations at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Social Services to investigate persons with mental or developmental disabilities. Facilitating access to investigation through means of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is embedded in the law.

In order to apply the law and to provide solutions for persons with complex communication difficulties (CCD) using AAC, NGOs and government ministries have joined forces to create a program making investigation and testimony accessible to this population.

Within this program, the special investigator is joined by a speech language pathologist (SLP) who helps make the investigation accessible. The SLP gathers information about the person and the ways in which s/he communicates, and then investigation is planned and carried out together with the investigator. Communication during the investigation is based primarily on the subject’s personal communication board.

The program has trained a team of SLPs specializing in AAC as well as special investigators in order to learn how to work together in the process of the investigation.

The development and marketing of the program continues, as does the learning and drawing of conclusions from the latest investigations, in order to give a voice to this vulnerable population.

Author(s):

Uri Gur Dotan    
Haruv institude
Israel

Netta Ben-Zeev    
Isaac Israel
Israel

 

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