Landmark Deaf Rights Case in Canada
All government services must be available in sign language free of charge, according to a court ruling hailed by the deaf community for giving their languages de facto official status alongside English and French.
Deaf Canadians have fought for years to have the same access to federal services as everyone else. Until now the 300,000-strong community has had to pay for sign-language interpreters, a policy it argued was discriminatory under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
This month Mr. Justice Richard Mosley of the Federal Court agreed, ruling that the government must pay for interpreters.
"It means no more excuses, no more delays," lawyer Scott Simser, a deaf man who argued the case before Judge Mosley, said yesterday with the assistance of a telephone operator. Although the ruling does not set a deadline for Ottawa to act, Mr. Simser said he expects the government to move quickly.