Assisting deaf people in court – Report of May 2014
I'd like to report about May 29, 2014, when I was at Cocoon Hotel in Quezon City. I attended the event entitled “Human Rights & Disability: An Introduction to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.” I was the only Deaf person and the participants were mostly from Government (Dept. of Justice, Dept. of Education, Dept. of Transportation & Communications, Philippine National Police, Dept. of Labor Employment, etc.). I talked about the experience of deaf people which I heard through my work of assisting deaf victims.
Mostly I assist cases in court as a volunteer. Many cases focus on Deaf women who are victims of rape and abuse. But, there are also Gender Sensitivity issues. Not only Deaf women but also Deaf men appear in course (to attend court cases of murder, witness, thief, rape or any other crime). I experience some cases where those who were innocent were taken to court because they were not educated.
I also discussed the two separate roles of VCAD (Visual Communication Assessment of the Deaf). One is to interview and evaluate the sign language level of Deaf victims or suspects, especially those who were uneducated. This can then help to identify what sorts of interpretation – Deaf Interpreter Relay – would be needed, such as a hearing interpreter, hearing interpreter with deaf interpreter, and so on.
a. VCAD interview
b. Deaf Interpreter Relay
I began working with a lawyer as a personal assistant. I started a project with the company so I could have earnings to support myself and my family. Instead I could help the deaf community. I also volunteer to coordinate “interpreter relay” for uneducated deaf people in court.
Since then I learned and ran the training project on “Deaf Human Rights and Legal Access” by the Philippine Deaf Resource Center (PDRC), which had partnership with the Philippine Federation of the Deaf (PFD) and the Filipino Deaf Women's Health and Crisis Center (FDWHCC). At that time I was the education coordinator for Deaf Women as well as being the president of FDWHCC. PFD, PDRC and FDWHCC submitted a proposal to Supreme Court about advocacy for access in court. After the project DHRLA was dissolved but the cases we received had so many issues concerning Deaf Women. I was the only volunteer of VCAD and Deaf Interpreter Relay to assist Deaf victims, and I worked almost 8 years.
Last May I got a job at a company but it was approved June 1, which I began to work as a secretary for my boss (lawyer) who is aware of the Deaf community here on each issue, and assists the Deaf client that I have helped before. My work is to relay messages from the lawyer of the insurance company through the hearing sign language interpreter to the client, and vice versa.
I wish to send you some photos of my speech and the forum during the event... I was overwhelmed to share with people what I wanted was to voice our rights – especially now, when we have so many cases involving deaf people.
Ma Rowena B Rivera (Philippines, 8th program)
Filipino Deaf Women's Health and Crisis Center Inc
Former President / Volunteer / Deaf Relay Interpreter