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Promoting ADR Inclusion for Tanzania's Deaf Community: A Conversation with Harvard Law School Project on Disability

On May 10th, 2024, ESS Creative and Legal Foundation's Erick Mukiza met with Professor Hezzy Smith, Director of Advocacy Initiatives at Harvard Law School Project on Disability (HPOD), at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Their discussion centered on a crucial issue: ensuring accessibility to Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for Tanzania's Deaf community.

The conversation highlighted the need for increased resources to achieve this goal. Prof. Smith emphasized the importance of government investment in three key areas:

Training Sign Language Interpreters

Qualified interpreters are essential for bridging the communication gap in legal proceedings.

Educating Community Leaders and Families

Many Deaf individuals rely on family members and community leaders who use their own sign language variations for communication. However, these individuals often lack formal training in legal terminology. Training them in basic legal concepts and ensuring a standardized set of signs for crucial terms like "court" and "judge" through the Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs is crucial. Equipped with this knowledge, they can then effectively train Deaf members within their communities and families.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Setting aside a budget for monitoring and evaluation is vital. This will involve assessing the implementation process, the effectiveness of training programs, and the impact on the Deaf community's access to ADR.

Prof. Smith offered encouraging news: HPOD, a global policy organization, is well-positioned to assist. They can help identify organizations with expertise in overcoming such obstacles. Furthermore, HPOD is prepared to provide technical support to Tanzania's Ministry of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, facilitated by ESS Creative and Legal Foundation. They can also assist in soliciting funds to support this vital initiative.

Together, we can create a more inclusive ADR system in Tanzania, ensuring equal access to justice for the Deaf community.

ESS Creative and Legal Foundation is committed to collaborating with HPOD and the Tanzanian government to make this a reality.

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