Who We Are

HEAR! HERE! is your local chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America [HLAA] serving Woodland, Davis and Yolo County. We offer informational programs throughout the year that are open to all. See this blog for times and dates of upcoming events.


Our e-mail address is: hearherewoodland@gmail.com

Thursday, February 17, 2011

"Going to Court? Inform the Court before you Go!"

Windy and Rainy as it was on Thursday Febuary 17th, Kara Clarkson and Julie Burton from Yolo County Superior Court came to the Davis Senior Center and talked to us about the services the courts offer to the hard of hearing. While, California Rules of Court, rule 1.100(g) requires that the court accommodates people with disabilities; Kara, the Interpreter Services Coordinator, emphasised that Yolo County Superior Court staff were dedicated to ensuring that qualified persons with disabilities, such as a hearing impediment, be provided with equal and full access to the courts. "This is a fundamental right." stated Kara at the beginning of her talk. "Let us know what you need so we can accommodate you to the best of our abilities."
Using a microphone system similar to the LISTEN system that the courts use for Assisted Listening, everyone in the room was able to hear Kara loud and clear as she proceeded to describe the three different accommodations currently available to the hearing impaired. They are:
ASSISTED LISTENING DEVICES work with the microphones that are situated in the courtrooms at the judge's, attorney's and clerk's desks. The sound is transmitted to a handheld device which the hearing impaired person is given. Each courtroom, including small claims, traffic and family court, have about four of these devices and they can simply be requested from the bailiff at the time you attend court.

REAL TIME TRANSCRIPTION is provided by a court reporter who types what is being said into a computer, where a program then displays the words onto a small screen which the hearing impaired person has in front of them. It takes quite some skill to be able to type, accurately, as fast as a person can talk and so this service has to be requested ahead of time. The service is normally available for Jury service or if the hearing impaired person is either a Defendant or a Plaintiff. Clare Childers, Hear Here's Coordinator spoke very highly of this service which she has actually used. At the moment there are only two court reporters who provide real time transcription and so both Kara and Julie mentioned how, in order to avoid scheduling problems, it was critical that this service be arranged for ahead of time. The form needed to request the accommodation is available at the courthouse or at their website: http://www.yolo.courts.ca.gov/.

AMERICAN SIGN LANGUAGE interpreters are also available when requested ahead of time using the same form.

At the moment English is the only language available for all three of the systems. Julie, the ADA coordinator for the Superior Court, mentioned that the courts have not been asked for accommodation in any other language. However, if this situation was to come up, the court staff would do their best to find a translator.

During the question and answer session the new Yolo County Superior Courthouse was mentioned and Julie noted that she hoped that the system for providing Assisted Listening might be a more up-todate version than the courts currently have. Clare Childers told Julie and Kara that input from the hearing impaired during the design and construction period is very important and she hopes that will occur. Julie promised to pass that on.

The importance of the hearing impaired speaking up in situations like this can not be overestimated. We need to let the people charged with providing us service know what works and does not work...it benefits all of society to have clear, effective communication available to all and there is no more important setting for this need than in a courtroom.

Both Kara and Julie showed their commitment to providing the people of Yolo County with excellent service by stating that if anyone is not sure how to go about requesting accommodations, or have issues with how their request is being handled, then they should feel free to contact either one of them directly. Their contact information can be found below.

Kara Walker Clarkson
Interpreter Services Coordinator
(530) 406-6708

Julie Ann Burton
Court Operations Supervisor
Court Services
(530) 406-6707

For anyone interested in further reading on this subject go to:
http://hlaa.convio.net/site/R?i=ELbJxXM3xUFTB2j0N6OzJA..for a very interesting article from the Hearing Loss Association of America

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