Participation in the administration of justice: Deaf citizens as jurors

This project will pioneer international research on legal signed language interpreting and jury service.

The primary aim of this applied research project is to investigate the capacity of deaf people who use sign language to participate in the administration of justice by serving as jurors. Research of this kind has never previously been conducted in Australia or internationally. The project will expand Australia’s knowledge base about court interpreting and jury service, by pioneering the first study of its kind. Additionally, through collaboration with an international Partner Investigator with a proven track record in legal sign language interpreting research, this project will foster the international competitiveness of Australian research. The objectives are to:

  • assess the ability for deaf jurors to access a courtroom trial and jury deliberations via Australian Sign Language (Auslan) interpreters;
  • explore how a deaf person can participate in jury deliberations when relying on an interpreter;
  • examine the impact of having an interpreter as a ‘13th person’ in the jury room;
  • investigate how the presence of a deaf juror impacts on the administration of justice from the perspective of the advocates, the bench, the accused and witnesses, and all stakeholders.’

This project is led by Chief Investigators: Prof. Sandra Hale (UNSW) (lead), Mehera San Roque (UNSW), Prof. David Spencer (ACU) and Partner Investigators: Prof. Jemina Napier (HW), Prof. Debra Russell (UofA), in association with Partner Organisations: Australian Federation of Deaf Societies (AFDS), Australian Sign Language Interpreters' Association (ASLIA)  and Deaf Australia.