Deaf lawyer Sarah Sunny

Deaf people pursue various professions, but can a deaf person be a lawyer or advocate? In this film, we'll meet Sarah Sunny, a deaf lawyer from India. The film is in Polish Sign Language (PJM) with subtitles in both Polish and English.

Sarah Sunny is a lawyer in India. Why are we talking about her? Because she is the first deaf lawyer in the country.

Deaf Lawyer Before the Supreme Court of India

On September 22, 2023, Sarah Sunny appeared before the Supreme Court as a lawyer. She was assisted by an Indian Sign Language interpreter. The trial was held online. The judge acknowledged that deaf lawyers should have been allowed to work in the courts long ago. So, why weren’t there deaf lawyers or attorneys before? Primarily for two reasons:

  1. Due to costs: Deaf lawyers or attorneys require a sign language interpreter. In India, interpreters charge for every hour of work, and after 30 minutes, they require a break. This means, in practice, you need to hire two interpreters, which incurs significant costs. In this case, the Supreme Court covered the interpreter costs, marking the first instance in which the Supreme Court of India paid for sign language interpretation.
  2. The second issue is the lack of specialized legal signs in Indian Sign Language and interpreters proficient in sign language, especially in the field of law.

Should Judges Know Sign Language?

The president of the Bar Council of India’s Supreme Court said something interesting:

“Even judges should have at least a basic understanding of sign language so that sign language interpreters do not intentionally or unintentionally mislead the court. Judges don’t have to be experts, but they should have a basic understanding.”

Who Is Sarah Sunny?

Sarah Sunny is deaf. She is actively involved in activities for the deaf and is a member of the Human Rights Law Network, where she contributes to the fight for justice and equal rights for all. Sarah Sunny emphasizes that everything she has achieved would not have been possible without sign language. She also admits that the opportunity to appear before the Supreme Court in India was a dream come true and hopes to inspire other talented deaf individuals.


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