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Physically Disabled Signers


A notary in my office told me she had refused to notarize for a signer because the signer was blind. Can she do that?

In some states such as Florida, Illinois, and Indiana, a notary public is legally required to read the entire document to a blind signer. In other states, the notary laws do not address or provide guidelines regarding the proper execution of a notarization for a signer who is blind. However, if the blind signer has questions regarding the nature and effect of the document, the notary must immediately stop performing the notarial act until the signer has been legally advised of his rights regarding the signing and notarization of the document.

A signer who is blind asked me to notarize his document and wanted me to read his document to him. I wasn’t sure if it was proper, so I refused the notarization. What should I have done?

A notary public is legally required to read the entire document to a blind signer if the notary is commissioned in Florida, Illinois, or Indiana. Contact your state’s commissioning authority for further instructions.

Am I required to read the entire document for a blind signer before I perform the notarial act?

Only if you were commissioned in Florida, Illinois, or Indiana. However, a prudent notary public will ask appropriate questions regarding the document being notarized, and the signer should answer appropriately. If not, the notary must refuse the notarization of the document until the signer has had an opportunity to seek legal advice regarding the nature and effect of the document being signed and notarized.

Can a notary notarize a document for a signer who was assisted in signing the document?

No. Affixing a signature to a document with the assistance of another individual has the appearance of an unlawful act. A notary public should not perform a notarial act for a document signer who is unable to sign on his or her own accord.

Is it permissible for a notary to guide the hand of a signer unable to sign in the performance of a notarial act?

No. Guiding the hand of the document signer could appear to be an act of official misconduct. A notary public should not perform a notarial act for a document signer who is unable to sign on his own accord. In some states, if the document signer is unable to sign or make a mark due to a physical disability, the notary laws allow the signer to ask the notary to sign his or her name on the document being notarized only if done so in the presence of at least one impartial witness who has no legal or equitable interest in any real or personal property that is the subject of, or is affected by, the document being signed.

If a client is too weak to sign, can she make a sworn statement in front of me so that I notarize the form?

No. A notary public must decline the notarization of a document if the signer is unable to sign or mark an X. In some states, if a signer cannot make a signature or make a mark due to a physical disability, the law allows that signer to direct the notary public to sign on his or her behalf in the presence of at least one impartial witness who has no legal or equitable interest in any real or personal property that is the subject of, or is affected by, the document being signed.

Can I notarize for a signer who is hearing impaired?

Most states do not provide notarial procedures for notarizing the signature of a signer who is hearing impaired. However, if a notary is going to take an acknowledgment from a signer who is hearing impaired, the notary must be able to communicate with the signer either through sign language or other acceptable form of communication throughout the duration of the notarial ceremony.

How do I perform the verbal notarial ceremony for a hearing- impaired or speech-impaired signer?

There are various ways to communicate with a principal signer who is hearing and/or speech impaired, including sign language. It is also permissible for a notary public to communicate with the signer by setting forth his notarial questions in written form for the signer. The signer must respond in the affirmative by either nodding, making another affirmative gesture, or writing down his responses.