Giving voice to the voices of legal practitioners with disabilities

02 Dec 2021

Several international human rights conventions focus on ensuring access to justice for all. Based on their unique lived experiences, legal practitioners with disabilities have much to offer in terms of understanding – from an insider perspective – the accommodations that could be used in court. The aim of this study was to describe the perspectives of legal practitioners with disabilities on their own experience of participation in court (focusing on both barriers and facilitators), and to elicit their suggested accommodations for persons with severe communication disabilities. Online and telephonic interviews were conducted with seven legal practitioners with disabilities. In response to the questions, three themes were conceptualised: participation barriers that hinder access to justice; accommodations related to ensuring equality; and accommodations related to procedural fairness. The insider perspectives of legal practitioners with disabilities may assist other persons with disabilities to participate equally in court, thereby ensuring access to justice for all. POINTS OF INTEREST : Law professionals with disabilities, for example lawyers and judges, have unique experiences of the court system, which means that they can offer a clearer understanding of what communication skills and strategies are needed to participate in court. Law professionals with disabilities can suggest effective communication methods and strategies that other persons with disabilities could use in court. There are certain barriers in court that make it difficult for persons with disabilities to participate in court, for example, policy barriers. There are also certain accommodations that can assist persons with disabilities to be treated with respect in court, in a fair and equal way. In the future, law professionals with disabilities should be involved when new laws, policies and guidelines are created that could assist persons with disabilities to participate in the court system in an equal way.