Prosecutor's office to hire interpreter for deaf

DETROIT (AP) - A prosecutor's office in Michigan has agreed to a settlement in which it will provide sign language interpreters and auxiliary aids for those who are deaf or hearing impaired.

The U.S. attorney's office recently announced the settlement, the Detroit Free Press reported. The Macomb County prosecutor's office said it will implement the policies within 30 days.

The settlement comes after a complaint that the prosecutor's office failed to provide a sign language interpreter to a woman who is deaf and communicates primarily in American Sign Language.

A news release said the office asked the woman to provide information and sign a summons and complaint in a child support matter, but she was unable to communicate effectively to employees without an interpreter.

The agreement was reached with the U.S. attorney's office and the state Department of Civil Rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Michigan Persons with Disabilities Civil Rights Act.

The settlement could provide a simple, cost-effective model for other prosecutor's offices in the state to follow, said Agustin V. Arbulu, executive director of the Civil Rights Department.

"Access for all to our justice system is a fundamental aspect of our democracy," Arbulu said. "People who are deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing must be able to communicate effectively within our justice systems, whether as a defendant, a witness, a victim of a crime of a party to a proceeding."

The prosecutor's office also agreed to provide appropriate aids and services, as well as post signs that notify the public of the availability of these services.

"Our office is proud to be part of the solution," said Eric Smith, Macomb County prosecutor. "It's our mission to bring effective representation to all citizens. These communication innovations will help us to better serve our disabled constituents, and ensure that everyone's fundamental rights are protected within the system."

Published: Mon, Oct 23, 2017