Legal Professionals

Legal professionals can face difficult dilemmas when working with people who have compromised communication.

Legal, the justice system and human rights agencies have critical roles to play in ensuring that people have the accommodations and supports they require for effective communication in all aspects of their lives and when using the services that they provide.

Recommendations 

  • Learn about the duty to accommodate the needs of people who have communication disabilities by taking the CDAC’s webinars listed below.
  • Develop policies, procedures, practices and documentation to identify and provide communication supports in the areas of understanding, being understood and/or making informed decisions.
  • Ensure that you have a formal process for an individual to authorize a support person to assist with communication and/or decision making.
  • Engage a qualified, impartial Speech Language Pathologist to assist with communication when:
    • an individual’s capacity is questionable
    • the individual has no reliable means of communicating
    • there is evidence of a conflict of interest, undue persuasion or coercion from support person(s)
    • the authenticity of a support person’s assistance is questionable
    • it is a high risk situation, such as medical assistance in dying.
  • In justice situations, engage a Communication Intermediary to assist victims, witnesses and accused who have communication disabilities.

 Resources

With contributions from people who have a diverse range of experiences and qualifications in communication disabilities, legislation and accessibility, CDAC’s free, online resource is comprised of five webinars, guidelines, useful tools and forms.

  1. Communication and Capacity: Context and Guiding Principles (Barbara Collier)
  2. Communication Disabilities: Barriers and Impact on Choice and Control (Barbara Collier)
  3. Legal Context for Exercising Capacity and Provision of Communication Supports (Lana Kerzner)
  4. Communication Supports: Formal, Symbolic Communicators (Barbara Collier)
  5. Communication Supports: Informal, Non-Symbolic Communicators (Jo Watson)

Supplemental Resource

CDAC’s webinars and resources on access to police, legal and justice services.