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Culturally Accessible Legal Advocacy for Deaf Clients

Dale H. Boam, Disability Law Center, Boston, MA

As advocates, we are often called upon to represent clients who are Deaf. Establishing effective communication with a client who is Deaf is vital, and requires more than just including an interpreter at the interview. To build a relationship of trust, advocates must become aware of the culture and history of the Deaf community. This session will provide strategies for getting to the cultural heart of the client's issue, framing arguments, and avoiding communication pitfalls. We will look at how the emerging force of cultural self-perceptions in the Deaf community will require systemic change in the mental health system.