Last week, we recognized Hispanic Heritage Month.  This week, before September concludes, we are celebrating National Deaf Awareness Month. Both are annual observances of the history, culture, and contributions of the communities they honor. The shared purpose of these celebrations is to pay tribute to and advocate for those whose rich traditions and social impact are often overlooked or undervalued. People who live at the intersection of both identity groups – Hispanic or Latino/a/x and Deaf or Hard of Hearing – are doubly impacted by a dominant culture that minimizes the richness of their lived experiences. Calling attention to the people and communities at this convergence is the goal of today’s blog post.

An additional focus is the importance of effective communication when interacting with the justice system. At the conclusion of this blog post, please look for links to websites and other resources for learning to sign in both American Sign Language (ASL) and Mexican Sign Language or Lengua de Señas Mexicana (LSM). You will also find resources for law enforcement and the court system to use in providing more accessible channels of communication for those who communicate differently.

Clear and effective communication of the law is a basic access to justice issue. (Please see our previous post related to this topic.)  Good translators and language interpreters are essential to ensuring that everyone, regardless of language fluency or proficiency, can understand and engage with the justice system. When communication barriers exist, interactions with law enforcement officers, in particular, can be especially fraught and potentially deadly. But recognizing communication differences and taking steps to bridge the communication gap are good first efforts to ensuring that all individuals, regardless of fluency in standard American English, have a safe interaction with the police and a just outcome in court regardless of language, culture, or identity.

Community Resources for Deaf Hispanic and Latinx Individuals

Resources for Law Enforcement and the Courts

Texas Resources

Additional Links

Learn to Sign