Dyslexia And Jury Service

 

Sir, - Last week I was called for jury service. I was happy to accept the call. After all, I campaigned some 25 years ago for the right of all adults to serve on juries. I read the information which came with my summons and was horrified to discover that people with reading difficulties are considered unfit for jury service. Form J.3 defines a person incapable of jury service as: "A person who because of insufficient capacity to read, deafness or other permanent infirmity is unfit to serve on a jury."

This is Dyslexia Awareness Week. Here is one more fact to be aware of: an adult whose dyslexic difficulties cause him or her to have severe reading problems is considered unfit to serve on a jury. There are no precise figures to tell us how many of the 23 per cent of Irish adults who have literacy difficulties are dyslexic, but we do know that 100 per cent of people with dyslexia experience problems in learning to read, write and spell properly. The fortunate ones are diagnosed early, receive appropriate help and go on to lead full and productive lives. The less fortunate are not identified, are often misunderstood, overlooked and marginalised. Now - to add insult to injury - their reading problems may prevent their serving as jurors.

Apart from the fact that this is one more slap in the face for people with literacy problems, how do they secure a jury of their peers should they happen to be tried in a jury court? - Yours, etc., Anne Hughes,

ACLD, Suffolk Street, Dublin 2.