Letter: Justice for disabled

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Stanley Best's letter (14 May) about deaf people and jury service shows not only regrettable prejudice but a great deal of ignorance about deaf people and the means by which we communicate.

I am profoundly deaf yet, through lip-reading or support such as speech to text transcription (palantype) or sign language interpretation, I have been able to work as managing director of an international bank, establish small businesses, serve on government task forces and run a major national charity.

However, merely due to my deafness I am prohibited from carrying out one of the most basic acts of citizenship, that of jury service. This is insulting and unjust.

Does Stanley Best really believe that deaf people when provided with adequate communication support are unable to understand and comprehend what has occurred in a court?

Far from weakening the fairness of a trial, allowing deaf people to be jurors may strengthen the basis for the jury's decision. In addition to absorbing all the spoken arguments, we as deaf people are of necessity expert at reading facial expression and body language which adds another valuable dimension to the jury's examination of the evidence.

JAMES STRACHAN

Chief Executive

RNID, London EC1

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