Friday 08 June 2012 by Jonathan Rayner

Discrimination claims brought by deaf people climbed 37.5% in the last quarter, according to a legal charity.

The 'shocking' increase underlines the need for more law firms to provide a service tailored to deaf people's needs, the charity said. Society also needs to address the 'scandal' of imprisoned deaf people unable to access training and other rehabilitation services, it added.

RAD (formerly the Royal Association for Deaf People) Deaf Law Centre said a 'dramatic increase' in claims since the economic crisis began was made worse when the Equality and Human Rights Commission stopped funding the charity in March.

RAD spokesman Jeff Brattan-Wilson said: 'Society has changed, with the recession disproportionately affecting deaf people who cannot always find deaf-friendly advisers to help them. British Sign Language, not English, is the first language for most deaf people, but law firms rarely know where to find interpreters.

'The result has been a shocking 37.5% [quarterly] increase in the number of discrimination claims.' Brattan-Wilson said it was a 'scandal' that deaf prisoners serve a 'double sentence' because they cannot take advantage of education and training opportunities or take part in group activities.

The RAD Deaf Law Centre officially launches in July.

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