VERMONT COMMUNICATION SUPPORT PROJECT
The Vermont Communication Support Project (VCSP) recruits, trains and certifies Communication Support Specialists (CSS) who can assist people with disabilities in Court, administrative hearings and related meetings. The accommodations that are offered by a specialist, support communication, and overcome barriers to effective communication caused by disability. The Communication Specialist is not an advocate, and does not offer legal advice. A large percentage of people who qualify for VCSP services are represented by legal counsel.
The Vermont Communication Support Project is the first program of its kind in the Nation. Providing specialized communication accommodations for people with disabilities offers equal access to our system of justice and State services. VCSP is administered by Disability Rights Vermont and is funded by the Agency of Human Services (DCF, DAIL, DMH), Disability Rights Vermont and the Vermont Judiciary.
VCSP serves individuals participating in civil, family, probate and small claims court as well as administrative proceedings and meetings. VCSP does not serve clients in criminal court.
Examples of hearings where VCSP support can be requested include
Parental Rights & Responsibilities
Relief from Abuse & Stalking
CHINS (children in need of care /supervision)
Termination of Parental Rights
Probate / Guardianship
State Administrative Meetings
To be eligible for a Communication Support Specialist a person must meet the following criteria:
Must have a disability
Must need and request the accommodation of a CSS in order to be provided the opportunity to communicate as effectively as possible and to the best of their ability
CSS services would be effective in helping a person overcome communication barriers posed by the individual's disability(s)
Communication may include comprehension, ability to express thoughts and feelings, ability to manage behavior in a way that may allow for effective communication, ability to understand written documentation, or any other variable involved with imparting or exchanging information in an interactive setting such as a Court hearing or DCF meeting.
“The VCSP’s services have been outstanding in quality and a great boon to the clients themselves, as well as to the fair administration of the legal system in their cases. With skill and understanding, the VCSP communication specialists help clients better understand the situations before them, which greatly support their navigation and communication with elements of the social and judicial systems.”
~ Jonathan Heppell, Esq.
“Vermont is a national leader with regard to this work. There are many disabilities that can affect a person’s ability to communicate effectively during judicial or administrative processes. Communication Specialists are trained to provide support and necessary accommodations to ensure that people are being offered an equal and fair opportunity to participate. This respects the civil rights of people with disabilities and increases efficiency for all.”
~ Lynne C. Cardozo VCSP Senior Advisor
learn more about the project
This wonderful video made in 2014 and gives a great overview of the project. This video focuses mainly on the judiciary and because it was pre-pandemic it does not address remote services, but all of the information is still very relevant. If you have any questions please email us at [email protected]