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Sign interpreters create inclusive courtrooms: Sarah Sunny & Saurav Roychowdhury.


Sign interpreters create inclusive courtrooms: Sarah Sunny & Saurav Roychowdhury.

Introduction:


In the hallowed halls of India's Supreme Court, history was made when an interpreter stepped into the proceedings for the first time. The interpreter was not there to bridge language gaps or decipher complex legal jargon; instead, they were there to ensure that justice truly became accessible to all. In a recent interview of, Advocate Sarah Sunny and sign language interpreter Saurav Roychowdhury shared their remarkable journey, shedding light on the challenges faced by lawyers with hearing impairments and the potential for a more inclusive legal landscape.


The Journey of Advocate Sarah Sunny:


Sarah Sunny's journey into the legal profession was marked by determination and a passion for justice. However, as a deaf lawyer, she faced unique challenges. Early in her career, her voice was her primary mode of communication, but it often posed difficulties in court. Judges struggled to follow her speech, forcing her to resort to written communication to convey her arguments effectively. In addition, the lack of interpreting facilities in Indian courts further compounded her challenges.


Are Indian Courts Truly Equipped for Special Needs?


Despite India's vast legal landscape, courts have lagged behind in accommodating individuals with special needs. However, a recent landmark moment in the Supreme Court might signal a change. The court's decision to allow sign language interpretation for Advocate Sarah Sunny has opened the door to broader inclusivity. Sunny believes that the Supreme Court's actions will set a precedent for other courts to follow suit. She emphasizes the role of social organizations in highlighting such issues and pushing for accessibility.


Mainstreaming Interpreters in Court Hearings:


While interpreting is now recognized as a profession, integrating interpreters into court proceedings requires a careful consideration. Sign language interpreters must possess legal knowledge to accurately convey complex legal concepts. To achieve this, a collaborative effort between the legal community and organizations dedicated to accessibility is essential.


The Roadmap for Specially-Abled Lawyers:


Advocate Sunny firmly believes that a roadmap exists for specially-abled lawyers. As the world's largest democracy with a diverse population, India must address various disability issues. The judiciary should champion noble causes like accessibility and advocate for timely modifications to disability-related legislation, such as the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act.


Is Legal Education Disabled-Friendly?


Sunny suggests that legal education should not merely be "friendly" but actively supportive of individuals with special needs. Accessibility measures, such as interpreting facilities and Braille support, would significantly benefit aspiring lawyers with disabilities. However, she acknowledges that there is still a long way to go in achieving these goals.


The Role of Sign Language Interpreter Saurav Roychowdhury:


Saurav Roychowdhury, the sign language interpreter who played a pivotal role in Advocate Sunny's courtroom success, sheds light on the challenges faced by interpreters in the legal system. From a shortage of interpreters to the lack of awareness among judges and clients, the path to accessibility is strewn with obstacles. Roychowdhury emphasizes the importance of appointing interpreters within the court system, vetting their legal knowledge, and collaborating with deaf organizations to ensure comprehensive support.


A Vision for the Future:


In conclusion, the recent events in the Supreme Court have set a powerful precedent for inclusivity in the legal profession. Sign language interpreters like Saurav Roychowdhury are breaking down barriers, one sign at a time, to ensure that every individual, regardless of their abilities, can access justice. As lawyers, judges, and legal professionals, it is our collective responsibility to champion this cause, promote awareness, and work towards a future where the legal system truly serves all of society. The Chief Justice of India, DY Chandrachud has paved the way for breaking the glass ceiling, and it's our duty to continue the journey towards a more inclusive legal landscape.


 

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