Sign language interpreters confront difficult issue in moot court in Shizuoka

At the moot court held as a workshop for the certified interpreters, the woman (right) interprets for the Deaf man (left).

As the lay judge system has been established, there is a possibility for a Deaf person to be elected to the lay judge. In the preparation for such a case, the Shizuoka Prefecture Society of the Certified Sign Language Interpreters began their efforts such as holding the court interpreters training.

When one Deaf lay judge is elected, usually two or more interpreters are needed. However, there are less than ten interpreters out of the 51 members have experienced in working at court.

The society held a moot court late November with the cooperation of Shizuoka University Law School, and found the difficulty in court interpreting.

Yamamoto Shiro, secretary-general of the prefecture society of the Deaf, who played a role of the defendant, says, "A lot of words that I do not understand the meaning were interpreted, so I am worried if the Deaf person may likely suffer from the disadvantage".

Furuguchi Akira, a lawyer and law school professor of Shizuoka University, pointed out that every word could affect the court decision. "The court interpreter needs to ask the presiding judge to confirm the meaning of a word when unable to understand at court, or to make clear the point for interpretation in the prior consultation".

Hatakama Mieko, president of the society of the certified interpreters, who has experienced court interpreting, said, "Hereafter, we, as an expert on deafness, will send information to make the court situation better administered".

The Health Minister recognizes the successful applicant of the sign language interpreter skill qualifying examination as certified. Among 200 interpreters recognized by the prefecture society of the Deaf, 51 interpreters are nationally certified. They work at court and TV political campaigns in addition to medical institutions and public offices in daily life.

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