TORONTO -- MetroNews: A new campaign in Toronto aims to help Deaf women facing family breakdowns navigate the legal system.
Through its Family Law Education for Women program, METRAC has partnered with Springtide Resources and members of the Deaf community to create two videos being launched Thursday.
The videos were produced in American Sign Language, with closed captioning, and contain detailed information about child custody rights and information about support services for survivors of domestic assault.
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METRAC has for years provided sign language services for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing women through direct translation, but feedback from the Deaf community showed it “wasn’t very helpful,” said METRAC’s legal director Tamar Witelson.
“This is about increasing access to justice. There’s a lot of concerns when women are separating from their partners, and it’s even harder for Deaf women,” she said, noting that having a multimedia element in the resources will go a long way.
The challenges facing Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing women during family separation battles can stretch beyond just access to justice. If a family is breaking up due to intimate abuse in relationships, for example, the woman is less likely to even seek legal help because of stigma around such cases, Witelson said.
“We still have many women in this situation who don’t even understand what their legal rights are,” she said. “Many even end up going in court without a lawyer to represent them.”
According to Canadian Hearing Society, there are over 530,000 people in Ontario who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing. That’s almost 5 per cent of the population.
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