There are innumerable disabilities that affect people’s experience of the judicial system and affect their access to justice – whether it be physical, mental, medical, psychological, social, cultural or otherwise. Some disabilities are generic and have ready-made solutions while others not so discernible so are more difficult to cater for. This is a training toolkit designed to support how Pacific Island countries may accommodate and respond to the needs of the disabled customers that they encounter.
The toolkit aims to provide resources for training for staff by first building their awareness of disability issues, and to identify the barriers that exist that prevent people from being able to participate in the judicial system.
The training resources have gratefully been sourced from the Office of Disability Issues, a New Zealand organisation specifically set up as a focal point for government on disability issues and administered by the Ministry of Social Development. Their training module is supported by a copy of their 2016 Disability Strategy and we have added some other design resources that you might find useful. All these resources are explained in detail further on.
Understanding the barriers that are in place will then help staff identify and plan how to adapt their physical environment and build their own Pacific resources and solutions to accommodate and respond to disabled customers’ needs. Removing these barriers enables everybody being able to participate and widens access to justice.
As a measure for assessment and an activity during the training, staff are asked to create a list of as many disabilities that they can. They can then demonstrate their awareness, understanding and empathy to identify potential barriers and the measures needed to address these. The final part of the activity is to create a list of options available and actions that can be implemented to address and remove these barriers.
These lists could then go on to be used to create a resource for management, identifying the types of disabilities and frequency they occur, potential barriers and suggestions for remedy from an in-country and local perspective that can be built into a court workplan of action.
This is a suggested approach with the expectation that any of these documents or tools will need to be reviewed and tailored to accommodate the individual circumstances of each Pacific Island country. We have provided comments where we think they could be modified and made suggestions about what to include or replace.