Legal hearing also for the hearing impaired

BSG: Courts must ensure communication
Courts must allow hearing and speech-impaired people to communicate in court proceedings and offer the necessary technical aids. Otherwise there is a violation of the right to be heard and thus a procedural violation, the Federal Social Court (BSG) in Kassel decided in a decision published on Friday, November 10, 2017 (file number: B 3 KR 7/17 B).

In the specific legal dispute, the hearing-impaired applicant from North Rhine-Westphalia needed hearing aids for her two ears. She asked her health insurance company to cover the costs for more expensive devices. In her experience, a cash register hearing aid free of personal contributions is out of the question, since these did not meet the requirements - for television and telephone calls, for example. So she didn't try this either.

Her complaint was unsuccessful before the North Rhine-Westphalia State Social Court (LSG). Her statements about the need for her hearing aids were not credible and contradictory. She would also have had to test the cash register hearing aids.

The applicant complained of a procedural violation. Due to her hearing impairment, she was unable to follow the process sufficiently. The LSG also did not want her to use a hearing aid during the negotiation. Since this records voices directly on the ear with a microphone and passes them on to the organ, a judge feared that it would be possible to make inadmissible sound recordings.

Later the LSG judge could not remember exactly, but did not rule out the woman's statement either. However, she did not make an application to use the hearing aid.

In its decision of September 28, 2017, the BSG identified a procedural violation. The LSG did not give the applicant sufficient legal hearing. Courts have a duty of care to ensure adequate communication options. According to this, hearing and speech-impaired people would have to be offered the necessary technical aids for communication.

The LSG judge considered it entirely possible that during the trial he spontaneously raised concerns about the use of a hearing aid brought by the applicant. Contradictory and unbelievable statements by the woman could be that she was unable to follow the hearing due to hearing. The LSG must therefore renegotiate the case, the BSG judged.

The top social judges also reminded that hearing impaired people should not be referred to fixed prices for hearing aids. According to the case law of the BSG "insured persons of the statutory health insurance are entitled to the hearing aid supply that allows the best possible adaptation to the hearing ability of healthy people according to the state of medical technology, insofar as this offers a considerable benefit in everyday life". This also applies if such a supply is not guaranteed at a fixed amount.

On October 30, 2014, the BSG had ruled that health insurance companies and pension insurance providers were obliged to provide comprehensive disability compensation (ref .: B 5 R 8/14 R; JurAgentur notification of April 16, 2015). Already on December 17, 2009, the court had declared fixed amounts for hearing aids as permissible, but they should be so high that they are sufficient for a real disability compensation (ref .: B 3 KR 20/08 R). fle / mwo

Author and source information

Video: Your Day in Court: An Educational Intro for Persons Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing (January 2022).