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Factors Affecting Communication Process

Discuss about the Interviewing Individuals with Intellectual Disability for Justice.

In any justice proceeding, communication with the witnesses plays an essential role. With the development of the judicial system of all the nations from global perspectives, a major concern has been identified, which is communicating with witnesses or victims with intellectual disability. It has also been observed that individuals with intellectual disability exhibit complications associated with communication which is seen to further magnify during rigorous court room procedures.    

Considering the above mentioned aspect, the core emphasis of the essay would be on critically analyzing and proposing new piece of guidance for individuals with intellectual disabilities to communicate effective in court proceedings.

On analyzing the issue of complications with effective communication on the part of the individuals with intellectual disabilities, it has been observed that the level of issues with communication process may vary from one individual to another. However, on highlighting upon the information of the various surveys conducted on the issue, it has been noticed that the percentage of population with intellectual disabilities having difficulty with communication varies from 78% to 89%. On the basis of the present data, the extent to which individuals with intellectual disability are suffering from the issue can be identified (Bull, 2010). However, these data fail to demonstrate the impact on the individuals who are facing the complication with effective communication. Hence, in order to further enhance the communication process with the individuals with intellectual disability, and provide with new guidelines associated with, it is essential to discuss and identify the impact on the individuals with intellectual disability on their communication process.

In the process of interviewing individuals with intellectual disability there are various factors associated which such condition that impacts the communication process of these individuals which are required to be perceived on the part of interviewer. Among the various factors, the core emphasis will be given on physical, sensory and intellectual factors (Cambridge, & Forrester-Jones, 2007). In this context it is mentionable here that intellectual factors and its development is deeply intermingled with the enhancement of communication skills. It has been observed that enhanced level of intellectual ability makes it easy on the part of the individuals to learn language and have enhanced level of language skills as a result of which the capability to deal with tasks requiring higher level of intellectual capability also enhances. Thus, having limited intellectual ability is observed to restrict the ability of learning language on the part of those individuals which in turn results in issues with intellectual enhancement which is observed to be particularly relevant in case short term memory [STM]. Phonological loop, an aspect of STM when gets affected process of verbal material also gets impacted adversely impacting the verbal communication (Milne & Bull, 2007). In addition to the above mentioned aspect, due to the issue associated with intellectual factor associated with intellectual disability, other than the impact of language, non-verbal communication also gets affected. Here, it is mentionable that, in the process of communication elements like ostention, context and relevance is required which gets affected in case of impaired intellectual disability. 

Strategies to Enhance Communication Process

Another essential aspect in this context is sensory impairment which impacts the communication that includes both hearing and visual complications. In case of individuals experiencing sensory impairment, sensory loss is associated with the condition. Visual impairment from a segregated sense does not have any long term impact on the communication process, however, when it gets associated with hearing impairment along with intellectual disability, it becomes further complicated (Jenkins, 2007). Hearing impairment is directly associated with communication complications. It has been further observed that 60% of the individuals with intellectual disability suffer from hearing loss. This is applicable in case of visual problems. In a forensic situation such complication has actual implications for witnessed events.  


In terms of physical factors associated with intellectual disability, it is mentionable that it is broader as compared to simple controlling different parts body parts associated with communication. In this context it can be stated that individuals with limited ability of movement will have limited knowledge of the world which also hinders the communication process (Fisher, 2010). Thus the above made discussion clearly reflects the various impacts of physical, intellectual and sensory factors associated with intellectual disability that affects the communication process adversely. 

In order to enhance the commutation process, implement appropriate strategies for the intellectually challenged individuals and ascertain involvement from legal context there are two essential aspects associated with it which are required to be highlighted, that includes stages and sequences of typical development and the factors that impacts enhancement of communication process and makes it a success. Considering the above two aspects, one of prime necessity in order to enhance health literacy. The reason being, individuals having intellectual disabilities are observed to have limited health literacy (Cederborg & Lamb, 2008). With the help of enhanced the level of health literacy of the individuals with intellectual disability, the ability of the patient to understand and read health information, engagement with the healthcare services and barriers associated with it can be eliminated.


Similarly, in case of individuals using pre-symbolic communication, it is required to be perceived on the part of the interviewers those individuals will not be able to use or understand symbolic forms of communication like pictures, speech or signs. The section of people is highly dependent and relies on individuals surrounding them to interpret the facial expressions, vocalizations and body language (Gudjonsson & Pearse, 2011). Thus, on the part of the interviewers, they are required to emphasize on the importance of presence of familiar individuals of the intellectually disabled individuals and communicate in their presence. They are also required to look into their way of approaching and focus on body language and facial expression in the process of communicating with them, which would make the process effective in nature.

In the process of interviewing them symbolic communication is also required to be highlighted as, approximately 60% of the individuals with intellectual disabilities are capable of using symbolic methods of communication which includes symbols, pictures, signs or speech for the purpose of communication. With the help of using this technique, the victims/witnesses who are experiencing intellectual disability may be made to respond to such pictorial narrations.

In addition to the above mentioned aspect, the interviewers are required to look into effective verbal communication. The reason being, in most cases of intellectual disabilities, they are observed to have mild disabilities associated with communication skills (Cederborg & Lamb, 2008). Herein, the interviewer are required to fragment the information, for it to be easily comprehendible on the part of the individual with such condition along with the use of sign language, pictorial expression of the communication can be effective strategy to communication with them which would help in effective communication on the part of the individuals. In addition to the above mentioned aspect, on the part of the interviewer, the techniques associated with pragmatics is required to be implemented which would help enhancing the communication skills of the interviewer in a way to engage the victim/ witness with intellectual disabilities. It enhances the skills associated with communication pattern, the way it is used to convey information.

Other than the above mentioned aspect, there are certain other strategies which are required to be implemented on the part interviewers to ensure integration and effective communication of the individuals with intellectual disability (Boardman, Bernal and Hollins, 2014). One of such mentionable technique is easy availability of pictorial leaflets and picture books. With the help of presentation of visual information, as compared to auditory information, they can be disseminated with effective information. In this particular strategy, drawings, pictures will require to be integrated which would help in disseminating information in an effective manner.


The interviewers can also integrate talking mats with the help of the views and opinions of the victims/witnesses can be recorded on the basis of which the judicial decision making can be effective made. Similarly, with the help of beyond words strategy, individuals who are unable to read, they can be communicated with the scenarios and their opinion can be collected. With the help of implementation of the above mentioned aspects Section 53 of Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 can be effectively complied which states that at every stage associated with criminal proceeding all the individuals are capable to provide with evidence. The section further states that conditions must be formulated wherein they are able to perceive the question stated to them and provide answer to it. Thus with the help of the above mentioned strategy it can be complied (Macpherson, 2007). Other than that, equality for all can be ensured upholding the judicial effectiveness and supremacy is another major advantage associated with it. However, in the process of applying these strategies the legislative procedure may get complicated that may adversely impact the judicial proceeding.              

In order to make the judicial proceeding associated with vulnerable witnesses, various legislation has been formulated. One of such mentionable legislation is Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 which provided with special measures in order to make provide vulnerable witnesses with required support during the legal process. Under the particular legislation, Section 23 Screening Witness from Accused have been implemented as a procedural requirement for witnesses under Section 16 (children, vulnerable adults) and Section 17 (distressed or intimidated witnesses).

Another mentionable procedural requirement for vulnerable witnesses has been formulated under Section 24 of the legislation requiring evidence by live link. With the help of this procedural requirement, the vulnerable witnesses are entitled to provide with evidence in a distance location from the actual courtroom. Under Section 25 of the legislation Evidence given in private has been formulated that are required in cases involving sexual offences. Under the provision, all the press members and public are removed from the court, whereas only parties associated with court process remains within the court (Legislation.gov.uk, 2017).  Section 26 of the legislation requires Removal of wigs and gowns in the process of vulnerable individual’s providing with their witnesses.  Similarly, Section 27 of the legislation puts forward the requirement for video recorded interview. This helps in protecting the vulnerable witnesses and safeguarding them from hassle associated with court room procedure and minimizes the intimidation associated with it. Under Section 28 of the legislation Video recorded cross examination has been proposed which not only helps in determining the authentication of the witness but also helps in understanding if coercion has been implemented. Section 29 emphasizes on Examination of Witness trough an intermediately which acts as a contributing factor for the witnesses vulnerable in nature to convey the entire incident (eradar.eu, 2017). Section 30 of the legislation emphasizes in providing with Aids to communication for the vulnerable witness which is highly beneficial for witnesses having communication issues and optimizes there scope of providing evidence with the help of communication aid.      

In the process of interviewing individuals vulnerable in nature, there are certain skills required on the part of the interviewer. One of such essential skill required on the part of interviewer is communication skill. To get in depth of the matter, the interviewer is required to have the skill to simplify the language. It is essential for the interviewer, which interviewing individuals vulnerable in nature particularly having intellectual disability to have skills associated with supplementary modes of communication which includes knowledge associated with symbols, signs, gestures (Newburn et al., 2012).. The interviewer is also required to learn to perceive unconventional communication pattern of the interviewee. It is important for the interviewer, in such cases to understand the importance of time. In other words, interviewers are required to provide the interviewee with required time to respond which would help in making the communication process effective and fruitful. The interviewers are also required to have language skills wherein, in the communication process the interviewer are required to incorporate expressive language in which the interviewer can incorporate video or audio recording for the purpose of translation of the information making it easy for the  interviewee to comprehend the conveyed information. The interviewer is also have comprehensive skills which helps them determine the about of information they want to provide, so that the interviewee can understand the conveyed information which helps it easy for them to comprehend and answer effectively (Newburn et al., 2012). The interviewer is also required to have skills associated with assessing communication, which would help in making the communication process effective in nature. Herein, the interviewer is required to look into observation, interaction and asking other which would help in getting an insight to the communication process and develop it further. Having effective assessing skills would also help the interviewer to look into language skills, phonological skills, communication competencies, on the basis of which the communication process can be further enhanced by the interviewer and help in attaining the required information.      

In the above made discussion the legislation associated with vulnerable witness have been discussed i.e. special measures under Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. There are certain usefulness associated with such legislation that helps in making the communication process in the court processing effective in nature (Macpherson, 2007). Under Section 24 the provision of evidence by live link has been formulated. The main advantage associated with the process is it helps in minimizing the stress on the vulnerable witnesses associated with cross-examination. However, the major issue associated with this provision is defendant is having the scope to see the witness which in cases involving criminal trials intimidates the witness and risks their security (Legislation.gov.uk, 2017). The purpose of formulating Section 25 Evidence given in private and Section 26 Removal of wigs and gowns had the similar intention. Similarly under the provision of Section 27, video recorded interview the main purpose was minimizing of intimidation on the part of the witnesses vulnerable in nature. However the main concern associated with the provision is it is exposed to the risks associated with technical problems. Section 29 which stated Examination of Witness trough an intermediately as a requirement in court proceeding, the major advantage associated with its use is perceived enhancement in the skills of the part of the vulnerable individuals. However, the major issues identified to be associated with it is, lack of training on the part of the police and the use of intermediately is applicable in different stages of criminal proceeding which may be different as a result of which the processing may be adversely impacted. Similarly, under Section 30 of the legislation Aids to communication have been formulated the major advantage associated with it is it helps witnesses with communication difficulties to communicate effective and provide with witnesses with the help of communication aid (Burton et al., 2007). However, the major issue with the provision is it is not very effective in providing support to witnesses who are children.  Hence, it can be noticed that though the legislations have been formulated to support vulnerable witnesses, there are certain flaws associated with it which are required to be addressed.

Conclusion

Thus on the basis of the above made discussion it can be observed that individual intellectually disabled who are associated with judicial proceeding is a complex and delicate matter, which is required to be dealt with optimum level of concern. This requires skills on the part of interviewer, effective application of the legislation and awareness regarding the issue which would help in making this court proceeding effective in nature.

References 

Boardman, L., Bernal, J. and Hollins, S. (2014). Communicating with people with intellectual disabilities: a guide for general psychiatrists. [online] rcpsych.org. Available at: https://apt.rcpsych.org/content/aptrcpsych/20/1/27.full.pdf [Accessed 19 May 2017].

Bull, R. (2010). The investigative interviewing of children and other vulnerable witnesses: Psychological research and working/professional practice. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 15(1), 5-23.

Burton, M., Evans, R., & Sanders, A. (2007). Are Special Measures for Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses Working?: Evidence from the Criminal Justice Agencies. London: Home Office.

Cambridge, P., & Forrester-Jones, R. (2007). Using individualised communication for interviewing people with intellectual disability: a case study of user-centred research. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 28(1), 5-23.

Cederborg, A. C., & Lamb, M. (2008). Interviewing alleged victims with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 52(1), 49-58.

eradar.eu. (2017). Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. [online] Available at: https://www.eradar.eu/youth-justice-and-criminal-evidence-act-1999/ [Accessed 19 May 2017].

Fisher, R. P. (2010). Interviewing cooperative witnesses. Legal and Criminological Psychology, 15(1), 25-38.

Gudjonsson, G. H., & Pearse, J. (2011). Suspect interviews and false confessions. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 20(1), 33-37.

Jenkins, P. (2007). Book Review: The Adversarial Process and the Vulnerable Witness (Vol. 9, No. 3, pp. 353-355). Sage UK: London, England: SAGE Publications.

Legislation.gov.uk. (2017). Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. [online] Available at: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1999/23/contents [Accessed 19 May 2017].

Macpherson, C. (2007). The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999: Achieving Best Evidence?. Medicine, Science and the Law, 48(39), pp.230-236.

Milne, R., & Bull, R. (2007). Interviewing victims of crime, including children and people with intellectual disabilities. Practical psychology for forensic investigations and prosecutions, 7-24.

Newburn, T., Williamson, T., & Wright, A. (Eds.). (2012). Handbook of criminal investigation. Routledge.

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