Tags: deaf | inmate | sues | prisons

Deaf Inmate Sues U.S. Prisons to Get Closed-Captioning TV

Tuesday, 11 Jan 2011 02:24 PM

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A deaf inmate has filed a federal lawsuit seeking accommodations for his disability including safe access to a television with a closed-captioning feature. The man, who is serving 99 years for rape, contends that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons is violating his safety and his rights, The Washington Post reported.

David Byrant communicates through American Sign Language and cannot understand spoken conversation. Since beginning his term in 2005, the District of Columbia native has not had regular access to an interpreter or other hearing aids, and other inmates attacked him when he tried to turn on a closed captioning feature, the Post said.

"He is held in what amounts to communication isolation," D.C. Prisoners’ Project attorney Deborah Golden told the paper. "He can't communicate with anyone, and he's cut off in a way that hearing prisoners, even in the most secure facilities, aren't."

Among other things, the lawsuit seeks access to an interpreter, use of a vibrating alarm to alert him to warnings, and safe access to a television with closed-captioning. Bryant is in a prison in Adelanto, Calif., but began his sentence in West Virginia and was moved to Florida. At each location, he sought accommodations for his deafness, the Post said.

Bryant had requested a vibrating alarm or strobe to alert him to alarms while in his cell, a telecommication device to communicate with his family and lawyers, and other accommodations. A Bureau of Prisons spokesman told the Post that there are no prisons in the federal system with special programs for the deaf but each prison is responsible for "whatever need an inmate presents based on his disability."



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