Polish officials’ knowledge of responsibilities under the act on sign language and other means of communicating
On behalf of the Polish Ombudsman AGERON completed a study “Polish officials’ knowledge of responsibilities under the act on sign language and other means of communicating.
Act of sign language and other forms of communicating was adopted in August 2011. The objective of its introduction was codification of facilities offered by public authorities with respect to the deaf and deaf-blind. As a result of numerous complaints from people who are deaf and deaf-blind, relating to non-compliance of the Act, the Ombudsman decided to commission a study to diagnose the actual state of its implementation.
The study has been realized on the basis of two research methods: Mystery Caller (mystery shopper) survey and IDI interviews. The purpose of the Mystery Caller survey was to investigate stated service level for deaf and deafblind in Polish public offices. Interviewer portrayed the role of a husband or wife to the deaf / deaf and blind and asked about applicable procedures and existing capabilities in the office for deaf or blind and deaf spouse. Purpose of the IDIs was to identify causes (diagnosed with surveys) for the state of implementation of the Act and to deepen the analysis of procedures existing in selected offices.
Completed research allowed us to draw a number of conclusions, of which the most important include varying levels of service and awareness of the officials to deaf and deaf-blind. Availability of interpreters and other facilities proved to be significantly lower to deafblind people than to deaf only. Lack of availability in both cases was explained alike – lack of supply of interpreters due to lack of demand – situations requiring handling the deaf or deaf and blind in the past. Nevertheless, a significant positive message flowing from processed research should be noted – despite inadequacies, offices were open to support people with these disabilities and without exception declared openness to service through an own interpreter.
Causes of the diagnosed condition of the law’s implementation were varied and resulted both from maladjustment of offices, lack of concretization of the Act and (hypothetically) the absence of activity of deaf and deaf-blind in highlighting their presence in functioning of offices – which could signal demand for translation services, and thus contribute to the increase in the level of service. In order to improve the diagnosed condition we have developed a number of recommendations, the use of which will be an opportunity to reduce barriers to activity of deaf and deaf-blind in both public offices and other entities.
The research was completed in early November 2013.