Press Release

IACHR Ensures Accesibility to Hearing for Persons with Disabilities 

October 30, 2013

Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) announces that for the first time, one of its public hearings will offer simultaneous interpretation into sign language in Spanish for the hearing-impaired and easy-to-read text summaries for persons with intellectual disabilities.

“We believe that guaranteeing accesibility to hearings for people with different types of disabilities is a critical step,” said the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, Emilio Alvarez-Icaza. “During these sessions, we will offer this type of accesibility in a hearing that addresses the very issue of the human rights situation of persons with disabilities in one country in the region.”

The hearing, titled “Human Rights Situation of Persons with Mental and Intellectual Disabilities in Peru,” will take place on Friday, November 1. In addition to interpretation from English to Spanish and Spanish to English, there will be simultaneous interpretation into international sign language, on the basis of the North American sign language, so as to ensure accesibility for those with hearing disabilities. This interpretation will be available in the room for members of the public who are in attendance, and will also be offered via the live webcast of the hearing.

In addition, the same hearing will provide easy-to-read texts on screen for persons with intellectual disabilities. This version will also be available via the IACHR’s live webcast. A specialist will summarize each speaker’s key points in simple phrases, which will be superimposed over the image on the screen during the webcast to facilitate accesibility by persons will intellectual impairments.

“We know that a true and effective enjoyment of the right to equality implies an obligation to offer these types of services,” Alvarez-Icaza noted. “In the future we hope to have the financial resources needed to expand this program so as to ensure that persons with disabilities have accesibility to all the IACHR’s hearings.”

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 82/13