Courts: Hearing Impairment

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of Lord Alton of Liverpool Lord Alton of Liverpool Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they have taken to ensure that the Judicial Office and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service assess the needs of hearing impaired users to fully participate in court hearings (1) in person, and (2) remotely, including any advice and guidance provided to the judiciary and court staff.

Photo of Baroness Scott of Bybrook Baroness Scott of Bybrook Baroness in Waiting (HM Household) (Whip)

We are committed to ensuring that both physical and remote court hearings are accessible to all our users and that users with hearing loss (of any degree) can fully participate in those hearings.

HMCTS will provide reasonable adjustments for court and tribunal users with all disabilities (including people with hearing loss) and takes steps to avoid treating people less favourably because of their disability. Court and tribunal users are encouraged to get in touch before any type of hearing to discuss the particular adjustments they may need, to enable individual needs to be met. There are a range of adjustments that can be provided for users with hearing loss, including the provision of auxiliary aids such as hearing enhancement systems, sign language interpreters, or additional support such as regular breaks in a hearing.

Reasonable adjustment guidance and learning and broader disability guidance is provided to all HMCTS staff for in person hearing and remote hearing. All guidance raises awareness of the issues people with hearing loss may face, and the reasonable adjustments which may help them to fully participate in hearings.

The Lord Chief Justice (LCJ), the Senior President of the Tribunals, and the Chief Coroner have statutory responsibility for training, under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, and Coroners and Justice Act 2009 respectively. Training responsibilities are exercised through the Judicial College.

The Judicial College ensures training promotes equal treatment by weaving equality issues and case studies into training material, and by providing access to the Equal Treatment Bench Book (ETBB), and learning materials which provide explicit guidance on working with diverse individuals such as those who are hard of hearing.

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