Tens of thousands of people incarcerated in jails and prisons throughout the United States have one or more communication disabilities, a term that describes persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, low vision, deaf-blind, speech disabled, or otherwise disabled in ways that affect communication. Incarceration is not easy for anyone, but the isolation and inflexibility of incarceration can be especially challenging, dangerous, and further disabling, for persons with disabilities. Correctional entities must confront these challenges; persons with communication disabilities are overrepresented in jails and prisons and the population continues to grow. Federal antidiscrimination law obligates jails and prisons to avoid discrimination, promote integration, and ensure effective communication. This requires adequate resources and preparation, joined by a shift in policy, practice, and values: to meet their antidiscrimination obligations, jails and prisons must offer choice, flexibility, and individuation well beyond what is typical in carceral environments. This white paper offers a starting point for such efforts.
Bialek, Tessa and Margo Schlanger. Resource: White Paper: Effective Communication with Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, and Low Vision Incarcerated People. Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, 2022.