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Communication Intermediaries

What is a Communication Intermediary?

A Communication Intermediary (CI) assists people with speech and language disabilities to understand questions and to communicate answers effectively when communicating with police, legal or justice professionals. CIs assist victims, witnesses and accused to give complete, accurate and authentic evidence in all phases of the justice system.

In Canada, the term Communication Intermediary © means a Speech-Language Pathologist who is trained by CDAC to support people communicating in justice situations.

CIs work in a similar way to sign language interpreters or language translators, however, they use different techniques to support people who have communication disabilities due to cerebral palsy, autism, cognitive disabilities, acquired brain injury, learning disability, stroke, dementia, ALS, Parkinson’s Disease and other conditions.

What training does a Communication Intermediary have?

CIs hold a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and have at least two years of clinical working experience.

All CIs on the CDAC roster have attended CDAC trainings. CDAC trainings include information about the role of a CI; the CI model of service; communication assessment procedures; principles, practices and code of ethics for supporting communication within police, legal and justice situations.

Who might need a Communication Intermediary?

People who have a speech and / or language disability may need a communication intermediary. Speech and/ or language disabilities may be caused by cerebral palsy, autism, learning disability, cognitive disability, traumatic brain injury, brain tumor, aphasia, dementia, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or other conditions.

Why use a Communication Intermediary?

Communication Intermediaries provide communication access for people who have speech and language disabilities, similar to the way sign language interpreting services are provided for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
Communication intermediaries can:

  • Explain how a person communicates
  • Clarify a person’s level of understanding
  • Assist the person to understand questions
  • Assist the person to communicate their answers

When to use a Communication Intermediary

A Communication Intermediary may be required if the person has a disability, other than a hearing loss, that makes it difficult for them to:

  • speak
  • understand, process or remember what is being said
  • express their opinions and thoughts in a clear manner

Or if the person:

  • communicates using pictures, symbols, a letter board or communication device
  • requires a neutral, arms-length person to assist them communicate

Or if the police, legal or justice professional:

  • requires validation on the communication assistance provided by another individual
  • wants input on communication access accommodations and how to record testimony provided in ways other than speech

Engagement of Communication Intermediary Services

As with sign language interpreters, language translators and other accessibility accommodations, the service provider (e.g. police, lawyers, courts, victim services, health care facility) is responsible for payment of communication intermediary services. CIs negotiate their own terms and payment. CDAC is not responsible for CI work.