Monday, 6 June 2011

Our 38th smartphone optimised guide - Dyslexia, the Courts and Reasonable Adjustments

In the past two years I have come across a number of cases where the parents had dyslexia. In each case, due to their not raising that they had this condition early in proceedings, I believe their cases were adversely affected and they faced significant disadvantage. Damage was done.

Evidence thrust under their noses during cross-examination, hesitation taken for attempts to avoid questions, and in one case ridicule for not understanding subtle nuances of speech and double negatives. Poor memory under stress, getting dates wrong or in the wrong order all impacted on their credibility as a witness.

Most of them were successful professionals, who have well developed coping strategies for day-to-day life. Court is not day-to-day life though, especially when matters relate to your children and your ex-partner. Stress comes into play, and for these parents, the stress exacerbated their dyslexia. Assumptions are made that because these often intelligent people have degrees and hold down well paid jobs, their dyslexia isn't a problem. Thrust them into court without reasonable adjustments being made to assist them and the result is a decidedly unfair trial.

"You have a degree, you must be able to read and understand papers!" is a common assumption, although the question may not be asked whether all their paperwork is provided on tinted matt paper as gloss white paper causes text to blur and scramble.

Courts and the legal process are not dyslexia friendly, and despite there being guidance for the judiciary and legal profession, in our experience, many judges and solicitors are unaware of the guidance, and have little to no idea as to how dyslexia affects people.

So... our 38th guide, and this time on Dyslexia, the courts and reasonable adjustments.

Over the next few weeks, all of our guides will be updated and reformatted to be more accessible to parents and grandparents with dyslexia.

You have rights, and the courts have a duty!