Legal Implications for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Offenders in Corrections
Communicating with a deaf or hard-of-hearing offender can be difficult for security officers and law enforcement officials, but current litigation establishes some best practices to ensure effective communication.
A qualified interpreter, closed captioning for television and videos, inmate orientation videos with sign language, and captioning and TTY/TTD devices must be readily available.
Equal access to TTY/TTD use for the offender and deaf and hard-of-hearing visitors must be provided, and extended visitation and call time must be provided for the Relay System, a national toll free service which helps people with hearing or speech difficulties place and receive calls.
For offender requests to access programs, services, activities, and in case of medical emergencies, a list of interpreter referral agencies should be available, along with an understanding of agency policies and fees.
Housing, custody staff, and the court needs to be notified of the communication style used by the deaf or hard-of-hearing offender. Staff should be trained on the topic of deaf and hard-of-hearing Offenders in Corrections, with all staff focusing on sensitivity to the disability, developing policies and procedures, and telecommunication devices (TTY/TTD) as mandated by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Additionally, an ADA coordinator may be appointed to handle all inmate concerns specific to compliance.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from Sheriff (02/07); Vol. 59, No. 1, P. 11; Baker, Eileen D.