Navigating the court system is already an overwhelming process. Doing the whole thing virtually felt almost impossible for Simone. Though she had heard of “Zoom”, she had never actually attended a Zoom meeting. Simone was almost more concerned with the setting than she was the outcome of the situation. Unsure of how to move forward, Simone reached out to Leele, a DAC Access Specialist, and asked for support. Leele reviewed the ADA guidelines with Simone and assured her that whether she was attending the meeting in person or virtually, all courts were mandated to provide proper accommodations for her as a deaf person.

Leele and Simone called the court ADA coordinator together to arrange for ASL interpreting services. While the coordinator initially dismissed the idea of an interpreter and insisted that writing notes back and forth would be sufficient, Leele was able to educate the coordinator on a more appropriate accommodation for Simone. After a meeting with the City Manager, a court certified interpreter was secured. Leele and Simone practiced using Zoom and reviewed courtroom and interpreting etiquette in a virtual setting. After much preparation, Simone asked Leele to serve as her advocate during her court appearance. Leele joined the Zoom meeting on the day of Simone’s court appearance and made sure Simone understood what was happening as the judge moved through the proceedings. At the end of the day, Simone was grateful to have Leele by her side through this new and intimidating process.

This is the core of what DAC does. We advocate for societal barriers to be removed, communicate the rights of the deaf community to the general public, and empower deaf and hard of hearing people to be understood on matters that impact their lives. We always stand on our three pillars of service: A.C.E.

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