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Delhi High Court directs Centre to appoint Sign Language interpreters in offices

D.N.I.S. News Network, India: In response to a petition filed by the National Association of the Deaf (N.A.D.), the Delhi High Court has directed the Central Government to conduct a survey of various Government offices to ascertain the number of Sign Language interpreters required to help persons with hearing impairment communicate with officials in order to access various public services.

A bench of Acting Chief Justice A. K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw also asked the Government to conclude the survey within three months and to appoint a nodal officer to coordinate the exercise.

After hearing the petitioners, the bench gave the directions to “undertake a study/assessment/ survey of the public buildings, hospitals, places of amusement and entertainment, facilities like airports, railway stations, bus stops and other places requiring availability of Sign Language interpreters” to assess the requirement of interpreters at each of these places.

The survey would also assess for each particular organisation if the Sign Language interpreters should be formally appointed or whether they should be empanelled with them to be available at short notice or with prior appointment, said the order.

Furthermore, the bench directed the Government to “recruit an adequate number of interpreters at specific points of interface of persons with disability with Government services such as disability commissioners, special employment exchanges, vocational rehabilitation centres and district disability rehabilitation centres and in all the major Departments and Ministries.”

It also passed the order to create a pool of Sigh Language interpreters to provide services at major railway stations, major airports, banks, post offices, hospitals, bus terminals, police stations, places of education, vocational rehabilitation centres, major administration offices, in the judiciary, employment exchanges and for Government interviews for jobs involving people with hearing impairment.