Ellen suffered from a debilitating stroke paralyzing her from the waist down and severely limiting her verbal skills, all while she fought to keep custody of her children and obtain protection from her horrific abusive ex-partner. Appearing for court required a tremendous amount of preparation: figuring out how and when to meet with her attorney, coordinating with Access-A-Ride to get to court on time, coordinating with the ADA court liaison to ensure reasonable accommodations were made for her and ensuring that a “Real-Time” interpreter would be available. Additionally, given the client’s disability, a family member was needed to accompany her to court each time.
Consider all the effort that goes into just getting the client to appear. Imagine the devastation when she arrives to find that the interpreter is not available. Throughout the 6 years that this case pended, the court was unable to coordinate translation for 90% of her court appearances. Ellen was unable to meaningfully participate in her case. She lost her ability to communicate her story because the court took away her voice. That’s the impact of these delays – the system that was supposed to help her essentially disempowered her.
This lack of access to interpretation was arguably a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, however the client had no more time or strength to entertain yet another lawsuit. The many court appearances and adjournments referenced above also delayed the client from fully moving past the abuse she endured, as she was forced to encounter her abuser for 6 years.