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Lawyer a silent hero to people hard of hearing

Xinhua | Updated: 2022-12-08 06:48
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Tan Ting [Photo/Xinhua]

CHONGQING — Dressed in a neat suit and a high ponytail, Tan Ting, a 30-year-old lawyer, is livestreaming in a studio in Southwest China's Chongqing city, with utter confidence and professionalism.

The only unusual thing in this entire arrangement is that there is no sound for this live broadcast.

Tan believes that the popularization of legal knowledge for the hearing-impaired is her life's mission.

In addition to delivering lectures on short-video sharing platforms, Tan is also readily available to offer any relevant assistance, entirely free of charge, to the hearing-impaired through other messaging apps.

Sometimes, she needs to answer more than 10 video calls in a day to help hearing-impaired people solve legal problems, ranging from household quarrels to financial disputes.

Since the communication is based on sign language, it can often take Tan 30 or 40 minutes to figure things out. Yet she has never once grumbled about her voluntary work.

"I'm a hearing-impaired person myself, so I know their feelings very well. Even for people with full hearing, it's challenging to deal with legal matters. So, when it comes to people with hearing impairments, it's even more difficult," Tan says, adding that she lost her hearing in a medical accident when she was only 8 years old and communicates with others through voice transcription apps.

After graduating from Chongqing Normal University in 2017, Tan joined a law firm as an assistant to Tang Shuai, a lawyer who uses sign language to defend hearing-impaired clients.

"I wish that more lawyers would learn sign language and promote legal knowledge among hearing-impaired citizens," Tang says, explaining the reason why he recruited Tan and 29 other hearing-impaired people to work as his assistants in 2017.

Some may doubt the actual impact of his practice, but Tan's success serves as the best testimony to the viability of Tang's initiative.

Tan Ting communicates with a client through her mobile phone. [Photo/Xinhua]

Initially, Tan felt anxious and helpless because passing the examination for legal professionals was an uphill task.

After failing the exam twice, Tan became rather despondent and felt like giving up, as she felt her three years of preparation were likely in vain and her mother was gravely ill.

However, her bedridden mother encouraged her to soldier on. "You must take the exam. You are not living for me, but for the disadvantaged and society as a whole."

After successfully passing the exam in 2020, Tan still felt that defending a case in court was a big challenge for a novice like her. But Tang comforted her, saying "appearing in court is only part of a lawyer's job, while promoting legal knowledge among the public is a lifelong duty for every single lawyer".

Tang's enlightening words gave Tan endless motivation to continue delivering "silent law lectures".

More people are joining the cause to bring justice into the world's "silent" corners. In January 2021, the Southwest University of Political Science and Law launched a new major and admitted 40 law students to cultivate professional lawyers who are able to use sign language.

One of Tan's colleagues has passed the written exam of the national examination for legal professionals and is about to become the next hearing-impaired lawyer.

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