Opening the Bench and Bar to People with Disabilities
Access to the legal system is a basic necessity in our society. Most people with disabilities want to participate in the legal system - as jurors, witnesses, litigants, attorneys or judges. In addition to participating in the legal system, people with disabilities seek legal representation for other purposes such as buying a home, obtaining a divorce, drafting a will or planning for retirement. In some cases, however, physical, attitudinal or informational barriers keep them from participating in the legal process or obtaining legal representation. The Attorney Generalís Office works to ensure that people with disabilities have access to every aspect of the legal system by distributing educational information, such as Opening the Bench and Bar to People with Disabilities, and training a network of court disability coordinators who receive and disseminate information regarding accommodating people with disabilities in a judicial setting.
Court Disability Coordinators
Court Disability Coordinators (CDCs) are persons who have been appointed by the Chief Judge of their circuit court. They are professionals who currently have various duties and specific expertise in some aspect of the judicial process. Court Disability Coordinators have access to a vast array of people and agencies that can help ensure program accessibility for people with disabilities as well as the statute regarding sign language interpreters. CDCs have been given guidelines for determining who is a protected person with a disability, what constitutes program accessibility and how it can be achieved.
To obtain the name of the Court Disability Coordinator in your area, contact the Disability Rights Bureau in Springfield at 1-217-524-2660 and 1-877-844-5461 (TTY) or in Chicago at 312-814-5684 and 1-800-964-3013 (TTY).
Training Law Enforcement Officials Regarding People with Disabilities
A manual for law enforcement officials and officers describing their obligations under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Illinois law has been developed. The manual, Equal Justice: Law Enforcement and People with Disabilities, is being used to train Elderly Service Officers and other interested parties about people with disabilities. Included in the manual is information about key state and federal statutes governing law enforcement accommodations for people with disabilities, synopses of cases and settlements involving law enforcement entities and guidelines for providing reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities.