Msg from Tara Potterveld / Deaf Legal Rights: Need your help, NOW!

Deaf Legal Rights: Need your help, NOW! Comment before Feb. 12.

California is proposing a new rule of court that does not include Deaf people. Currently, California provides certified interpreters to Deaf people in court. But often the court orders people to complete classes and programs provided by private agencies outside of the court.

If a judge orders Deaf parents to take parenting classes and there are no classes available in ASL, Deaf parents must either pay for interpreters, sue the private program for ADA violations or risk court-ordered separation from their children. 

Or if the court orders Domestic Violence education, but no private program will provide certified interpreters or offer an ASL environment, then the Deaf person must either pay for interpreters or risk being jailed for not complying with the court order.

Deaf people should be included in Rules of Court 1.300, particularly under (c) “…a court should avoid ordering a limited English proficient court litigant to a private program, service or professional that is not language accessible.” And (d) The court may “enter an alternative order or extend time for completion.”

The courts need to ensure that private court-ordered programs follow ADA guidelines. California’s new proposal for interpreting services for court-ordered programs and services does not include Deaf people, only hearing people who do not know English.

Before Feb. 12, let the state know that Deaf people also need to be included in the proposed Rule of Court (1.300) for access in ASL from private or outside agencies that provide services ordered by the court.

Send your comments to

Subject line: Language Access: Language Services in Non-courtroom Programs and Services

Sample email ideas: (Please feel free to submit your own thoughts and wording)

Please include Deaf people in the Non-Courtroom programs proposal Rule 1.300. Courts should maintain a list of court-ordered programs that provide ASL access for Deaf people.

My experience trying to get court-ordered classes was …. (Please include your own experience.)

Even with ADA laws, many court-ordered private programs refuse to provide interpreters for Deaf participants. When the court requires attendance in private programs and services, it should ensure that the agencies offering services will provide certified interpreters for Deaf people or remove those agencies from court approved  lists.

We need certified interpreters for any program or services ordered by the court. It is insufficient, illegal and wrong to expect a family member to provide interpretation for these important services or to ask the Deaf person to pay out of pocket for interpreters.

Don’t punish Deaf People. Because is is so difficult to find court-ordered programs that are ASL based or willing to provide interpreters, courts should not punish Deaf people who are unable to get services in ASL. This is an issue of fairness and justice for Deaf people.

See full proposed rule of court at:

Tara Potterveld, MA, CT&CI, SC:L
Nationally Certified Legal Interpreter
Tele: 510.502.8143

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *