A Communication Intermediary (CI) assists victims, witnesses and accused people who have speech and language disabilities to understand questions and to communicate answers effectively when communicating with police, legal or justice professionals.
In Canada, the term Communication Intermediary © is a qualified Speech-Language Pathologist who is trained by CDAC to support people communicating in justice situations.
CIs work in a similar way to sign language interpreters or language translators, however, they use different techniques to support people who have communication disabilities due to cerebral palsy, autism, cognitive disabilities, acquired brain injury, learning disability, stroke, dementia, ALS, Parkinson’s Disease and other conditions.
What training does a Communication Intermediary have?
CIs hold a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and have at least two years of clinical working experience. CDAC trainings include information about the role of a CI; the CI model of service; communication assessment procedures; principles, practices and code of ethics for supporting communication within police, legal and justice situations.
Why use a Communication Intermediary?
Communication Intermediaries provide communication access for people who have speech and language disabilities, similar to the way sign language interpreting services are provided for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
Communication intermediaries can:
- Explain how a person communicates
- Clarify a person’s level of understanding
- Assist the person to understand questions
- Assist the person to communicate their answers
What does a communication intermediary do?
As with sign language interpreters, language translators and other accessibility accommodations, the service provider (e.g. police, lawyers, courts, victim services, health care facility) is responsible for payment of communication intermediary services. CIs negotiate their own terms and payment. CDAC is not responsible for CI work.
- Conducts a communication assessment to determine what the person needs to understand questions and to communicate his or her responses. Assessment may involve investigating the person’s understanding of different types of questions, time concepts, emotions and feeling words, and ability to tell a story. It might involve exploring the need for communication aids such as visual calendars, body maps, pictures and objects.
- Writes a report on the person’s communication abilities and documents any required communication aids and supports
- Explains the person’s communication needs to justice professionals and what the person needs to communicate effectively within the justice process.
- When supporting a victim, witness or accused person in court, attends the Voire Dire to discuss ground rules and get the court’s prior approval to use recommended communication strategies and aids
- Provides communication aides and direct communication support within all stages of the justice process. Examples include suggesting ways to ask questions that the person can understand, using strategies to maintain the person’s attention and focus on a specific topic, providing visual supports to assist the person’s to understand and respond to questions.
Who pays a communication intermediary?
As with sign language interpreters, language translators and other accessibility accommodations, the service provider (e.g. police, lawyers, courts, victim services, health care facility) is responsible for payment of communication intermediary services. CIs negotiate their own terms and payment.
CDAC provides training for CIs, and a database that police, legal and justice professionals can use to search for a CI in their area. CDAC does not endorse, accredit or pay for CI services. CIs are independent, regulated and qualified Speech-Language Pathologists and negotiate their own terms and payment.