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Deaf Man Jailed Without Interpreter, Wins Case

Deaf News: Deaf man jailed without sign language translator wins case against District of Columbia jail.

WASHINGTON - A Deaf man who was jailed for 51 days without a sign language translator - left unable to communicate with prison doctors, his counselor, his teachers and other inmates - has won a discrimination case against the District of Columbia.

William Pierce is profoundly Deaf and communicates with sign language. After he pleaded guilty to a simple assault charge stemming from a domestic dispute, he was sentenced to the D.C. Correctional Treatment Facility, which is operated by Corrections Corporation of America.

The jail assumed that "lip-reading and exchanging written notes would suffice," and did not provide a translator, the court found.

"They figuratively shrugged and effectively sat on their hands," the court's decision read. Pierce felt isolated and confused by what was happening in jail, he said in court filings.

The court found that the District and CCA had violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), as well as the 1973 Rehabilitation Act.

“I am very pleased with Judge Jackson’s decision to find that the District of Columbia violated my rights as a Deaf man and a human being,” Pierce said, through an interpreter, in an American Civil Liberties Union press release.

Video phones and interpreters are critical for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing inmates to have access to the same opportunities as other inmates," Pierce said. "Unfortunately, even with this decision, the denial of service and adequate access continues... Read more:
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