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May 14, 2007

State Bar To Unveil Fund For Deaf Interpretation

From: CBS 42 - Austin,TX,USA - May 14, 2007

Leslie Coons

(CBS 42) AUSTIN For millions of Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, communication obstacles are often something they deal with on a daily basis.

Factor in needing legal help and that communication gap's not only frustrating—it can be downright scary.

Monday Texas lawyers hope to calm those fears. A big announcement will be made at Advocacy Incorporated in Austin Monday, where the State Bar of Texas will unveil the "Sign-Up Fund."

This is a move that really puts Texas ahead of many other states. "Sign-Up" is a sign language interpreter fund that will assist Texas lawyers in understanding and accommodating the legal concerns of the deaf.

The $20,000 start-up grant is one of two grants the State Bar of Texas gives out annually to help improve legal services for underserved populations in Texas.

Although it's hard to pinpoint an exact number of the deaf and hard of hearing in the Lone Star State, it's believed they make up about five percent of the population—more than 670,000 people.

The State Bar of Texas is the first state bar to approach the communication gap in this way, by setting up a fund for interpreter dollars.

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