Peculiarities of a lawyer’s communication with persons with disabilities

During the webinar at the Higher School of Advocacy on the topic "Ethics of a lawyer with persons with disabilities", Oleg Polozyuk, a lawyer, a member of the Committee for the Protection of Persons with Disabilities operating as part of the NAAU, spoke about the peculiarities of communication between a lawyer and persons with disabilities.

If a person with a disability applies to the court, then it is necessary to interpret it first of all as a client who applied for a service, but at the same time it is necessary to understand and possess some peculiarities in communication.
And the main thing is to treat people with disabilities in the same way as other people – with respect.
The components of this attitude are:
  • Tolerance
  • Susceptibility
  • Respectfulness
  • Equality
  • Understanding
  • Recognition
Communicating with visually impaired persons:
  • find out which form of receiving information is optimal for her (braille font, increased font size, audio recording, etc.);
  • provide voiceover of all procedural actions, read verbatim all procedural documents with which the person must be familiarized or which he signs;
  • orient such a person regarding the main procedural actions, movement inside or outside the premises, take into account the need for additional time for such orientation.
Communicating with people with hearing impairments:
  • provide professional sign language translation;
  • address directly to the interlocutor, not to his interpreter;
  • keep your face open and lit, avoid the light source behind you;
  • speak clearly and clearly, use simple common words, do not use complex terms;
  • keep feedback and communication, ask questions to make sure that the person adequately understands the meaning of all procedural actions.
Communicating with a person with autism spectrum disorders:
  • avoid sudden movements, sounds, minimize possible irritants;
  • maintain a calm tone of conversation;
  • do not touch a person or his things without permission, do not violate the personal space of the interlocutor.
Communicating with persons with intellectual disabilities:
  • talk directly to the person;
  • behave calmly and kindly, show respect and understanding;
  • use short sentences, simple and clear words, avoid ambiguity and hints;
  • make sure that the question is clear, give time to understand and answer it; if difficulties arise – simplify and specify;
  • use only open-ended questions that require a clear answer.
Communicating with a person who moves in a chair:
  • ensure the architectural accessibility of the meeting hall;
  • avoid the position during which your interlocutor needs to tilt his head; if possible, position yourself so that your faces are at the same level;
  • allow additional time for such a person to move around the meeting hall;
  • contact the person directly, not their attendant.
Incapacity (limited, partial legal capacity) of the client, or his actually reduced ability to adequately evaluate the validity, in itself cannot be a reason justifying the lawyer's non-performance (improper performance) of his professional duties in relation to such a client.
If, due to age, mental illness, or other objective reasons, the client has a reduced ability to make balanced decisions related to the content of the assignment, the lawyer must try to maintain a normal relationship with him that meets the requirements of the Rules.
If the client is recognized as incapacitated (limited legal capacity) in accordance with the procedure established by law and placed under guardianship (guardianship), or if the client is a minor, and the client's interests are, accordingly, represented by a legal representative (or guardian, custodian) who knowingly acts to the detriment of the lawyer legal interests of the minor (ward), the lawyer must:
  • refuse to accept (or, accordingly, continue to execute) an assignment that may harm the interests of a minor (ward);
  • take all measures available to him to protect the client's legitimate interests;
  • notify guardianship and guardianship authorities of the specified actions of the guardian (guardian) of an incapacitated (limitedly capable) client or legal representatives (guardian) of a minor.
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