At Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico, we decided to renovate our commitment to the deaf community by expanding outreach regarding legal services that ensure housing justice and displacement protections for these families. We also intend to integrate sign language interpretation into our social media programming and most workshops. Aware of the impact of inequality and rights violations on the deaf community, making legal education and support accessible and available is our responsibility as advocates.
Since mid-2022, we have been identifying resources to engage in these initiatives. We need more resources to hire interpreters to translate educational content and support our client intake processes and legal representation. Moreover, we need long-term commitments with donations directed to accessibility. Your support is urgent and essential.
As we revamp this GG project, we ask you to donate and spread the word!
Even though nearly 218,495 individuals in Puerto Rico are members of this community, amplifying the needs of the deaf community is complicated. Discrimination and unequal access to justice and essential services are at the core of this challenge. As housing and social justice advocates, our role is to prioritize the integration of this community into our programs, legal support, and advocacy work. We are still aiming to grow our resources in sign language. As time goes by, there is an increasing need to obtain the necessary resources to reach more people on various topics. Family law, elders' rights, health rights, and protection against harassment and domestic violence are top priorities. Because these issues are intimately related to housing rights, creating educational resources could also help promote support to communities and members of the deaf community. The donations received in the following three months will be elemental to help us decide and analyze the possibilities of this accessibility initiative. We ask you to donate and share this information with other people. Solidarity is the capacity to shed light on every space and instance that needs justice.
Our continuous effort to learn more about the deaf community has provided more insight into the urgent unmet needs. While Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico dedicates most of its resources to housing justice, we have found that access to health services is the priority of these individuals. It is no surprise. Access to medical assistance, discrimination, lack of interpreters, and the violation of the confidentiality of patients are common complaints we hear during interviews and focus groups.
During this period, we decided to develop skills to share information on these pressing matters. We visited the Office of the Patients Ombudsman, responsible for safeguarding the rights of the deaf communities, and learned that their interpreter services were unstable and that very few members of the deaf community know or use their services. We collaborated to celebrate a workshop where more than 20 people participated and obtained more tools to defend their right to health services. At this moment, we are trying to integrate our expertise in housing within the priorities the community has been identifying. While we are taking sign language classes, we gather resources to do more. The following stages are advocacy work and the celebration of housing workshops designed with the unmet needs of these people in mind.
Yet, we need more resources to do so. Interpreters are scarce and costly. A two-hour interpretation required to interview a potential client may cost up to $150.00. Donations to continue and expand this initiative are essential. Please continue supporting this work.
Access to legal education is a right and not a privilege. For some people, access to justice is the difference between injustice and dignified living. Learning about the culture, needs, and legal aspirations of the deaf community has been a formative process for our team. Besieged by discrimination and exclusion, deaf people strive for justice. Our responsibility as advocates is to accompany them in the process of knowing and defending their rights. In the last few months, and thanks to your support, we have been able to produce critical educational resources using sign language and the help of interpreters. Materials on alymony, labor discrimination and access to health have served thousands of individuals. Our videos have been watched more than 1000 times! We hope this translates into more access for this community. You can access the library here. Remember that Puerto Rico's deaf people use a different sign language, which makes funding local interpreters even more urgent.
We also want to share great news. Our team has been certified by ASLES, a deaf people owned sign language organization, as an organization that has passed the introductory sign language course. We are honored, grateful, and humbled by the meaning of this huge step. <3
Accessible legal education designed for and with the deaf community is urgent to break cycles of violence and poverty that impact this population. With your support, Ayuda Legal Puerto Rico works hard to co-create a legal education library in sign language, where deaf individuals can find answers to legal issues regarding a wide array of topics. With your support, we have created more 6 educational and 52 glossary videos in sign language in a short time. The selected topics have been chosen in focus groups with members of the community and allies, who have named barriers within administrative and judicial forums and discrimination as root causes of their vulnerability. Videos on custody and access to medical services are among the most popular. We expect to add educational content on pressing issues such as disaster preparedness and domestic violence in the following weeks. These materials are currently under the review of deaf individuals who verify the accessibility of the information. We are learning to be inclusive and acknowledge that only the people who need this accompaniment can lead us forward.To do more we need more support. We invite you to share this project widely. We need to amplify the needs and wants of this wonderful community. Lets do it together.
As for our Legal Clinic for the Deaf Community, it's open! Follow the link in this report. Would you please share this information on your networks? Thank you for your solidarity
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