Back From the Dead

By BitcoDavid

Well, I’m back. For the past 2 weeks or so, I’ve been in Dante’s 9th circle of network upgrades. We now have a full terabyte – 4 processor hive for editing videos, and a domain controller running our 10 pcs in Active directory. I finally have my own registered domain name –

So we’ll be able to produce higher quality videos at a much faster rate, provide scripted hosting for files and applets that can’t be hosted on WordPress, run chats and online events and provide direct Internet access to large private files.

Anyway, I’m very sorry for the long hiatus in posting. A lot has been going on in the worlds of both the Deaf and the incarcerated, and now that all the hardware is back up to snuff, we’ll be renewing our commitment to regular posting and to providing our readers with up to the minute and original content.

In the meantime, Here’s Jimmy Kimmel‘s translation of what Thamsanqa Jantjie was really saying at Mandela’s funeral, and SNL’s take on the story as well.


More posts to come. It’s good to be back.

BitcoDavid is a blogger and a blog site consultant. In former lives, he was an audio engineer, a videographer, a teacher – even a cab driver. He is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and a Pro/Am boxer. He has spent years working with diet and exercise to combat obesity and obesity related illness.

A Basic First-aid Class for Deaf Adults

By Joanne Greenberg

[Editor's note: This piece was originally written by Ms. Greenberg several years ago, so many of the time and date references may no longer be accurate. -- BitcoDavid]

Resusci_Annie photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Resusci_Annie photo courtesy of Wikipedia

The idea for the class came serendipitously. I was taking advanced first-aid and I mentioned to the Chief Instructor, that because there were a fair number of Deaf people in the Denver area, perhaps the class should learn some simple signs and the manual alphabet. I find Sign useful as an alternative means of communication when ordinary speech is impractical. The Instructor, being enterprising and adaptable, allowed me to do this. After the course was over, four of the instructors and one other student asked me if I would teach them basic Sign.

During those sessions we began to talk about the isolation that deafness imposes. The pre-lingual Deaf are often unable to get the simple life information that the Hearing learn informally from people around them. They are often further handicapped by reading problems and poor education. As these ideas were better understood, the instructors agreed that Deaf adults would be prime candidates for the Basic first-aid course.

I happened to know of an Adult Education class for the Deaf, and the co-leaders of this class, were delighted when I mentioned the possibility of a first-aid class to them. The class was taught in the basement of a church in downtown Denver. Its funding was partly private and partly state, and because it was both experimental and independent, we were encouraged to proceed at our own pace.

We began by having a simple social meeting with the class. The instructors’ Sign was still rudimentary, but it was important for the Deaf students to know that although there would be one or more interpreters for all classes, the instructors had taken the time and showed and interest in communicating with them directly. We have come to believe that this is a key point in the success of a first-aid program, that the instructors be well trained in all levels of first-aid instruction and also have at least fundamental command of Sign language. Sign helps break the reserve of the Deaf student and helps the instructor over any feeling of strangeness in working with all levels of Deaf people.

Formal sessions started with about 12 students, which soon dropped to 10. Their reading level ranged from about third grade to the post-graduate level and verbal skills had about the same spread. In addition we had an elderly woman who was so physically reserved the she was unwilling to sit on the floor during the first sessions and a middle-aged Black man who told us privately that he could never bring himself to have any physical contact with White people, especially women, due to the fear ingrained in him in his childhood. We also had two Hearing High School students, a boy and a girl.

The first classes were the hardest. We found we were going too slowly, teaching too much from the book. We were, in short, underestimating the intelligence of our students – confusing low language ability with low interest and competence. We soon began to feature practical demonstrations and to replace complicated explanations with role-playing. Our chief interpreter was intuitively alert to this and often gave up formal Sign for mime when the need arose. We divided the students into groups whenever we could and their competence with each other opened the way for them to demonstrate lifesaving methods on us. We faced the problems of shyness and race directly and frankly. In lifesaving situations, reticence and race have no place.

It soon became evident that more content was needed in the course and one of the instructors brought a Resusci Annie to class and gave everyone training in artificial respiration. The instructors and interpreters discussed this decision, like all others. We met at a local place for supper before each class and besides being pleasant; it was a good way of getting everyone’s views and feelings on decisions to be made and the progress of the class.

Most Deaf people depend on getting by with minimal understanding. Often they will respond to what they think we want, saying yes, yes, I understand, when they don’t understand at all. Some have grown up under the stigma, wrongly applied, of retardation, and will go to any lengths not to appear slow or stupid. Our greatest enemy in this class was phony acquiescence, and our pre-class talks allowed each of us to tell whether we had noticed any signs of misunderstanding of the body language that indicates pulling away, resentment, confusion or disapproval.

A paradox developed. We knew that we had been moving too slowly for these interested people and we began to speed up. (The class had stared on April 24 and we were halfway through May with only a fourth of the course finished.) On the other hand it was apparent that years of personal experience and a wealth of misinformation and old wives’ tales would have to be ventilated and put to rest before new learning could take place successfully. Because of the communication problem, the Deaf are keepers, storers of experience. The unexplained phenomenon, the misunderstood illness may be kept waiting for 25 years before someone comes who has the time and knowledge to listen and perhaps interpret correctly. We were slowed therefore, by the weight of the Deaf students’ pasts. (And, of course, butter on all burns – that’s what Mom did. The Deaf are nothing if not observant. In passing, it should be noted that one of the truest proofs of real learning I saw during the course was that one of the problems on the final was a 2nd and 3rd degree burn. We had butter, grease and margarine all over the place, and no one used any.)

Deviant Art - Alice of Spades (Don't worry, it's make up)

Deviant Art – Alice of Spades (Don’t worry, it’s make up)

Our strengths and weaknesses were becoming clearer to us with the passing of time. We had started speeding up the rate of instruction; we were relying almost entirely on Sign and demonstration. We were communicating without preaching, that first-aid can be done by Deaf people on other Deaf, or by Deaf people on Hearing, and that empathy and competence were the keys to success. One Deaf person described our sign as “groping, slow, clumsy and understood.” Our students understood and liked us.

The two Hearing students did not work well with the class. They seemed to feel themselves above the Deaf students and were self-conscious about role-playing. Whether this was Hearing or Adolescence we did not know, but they often made the class self-conscious and we all agreed that we would never again mix Deaf and Hearing students. Ultimately, they were the only ones to flunk the course.

Another misjudgment was our lack of a firm stand on attendance. Since the class was experimental, we started out by following the Teacher’s manual. The Basic course is supposed to be self-teaching; instead we had to resort to the lecture-discussion format. Usually, the reasons for missing class were good, but the effect on the teachers was demoralizing, since some of the students had shown very little retention of printed material that was not reinforced by discussion and practice.

Would you believe you can buy phony wound appliques on the Web?

Would you believe you can buy phony wound appliques on the Web? (

On June 30th we gave our final. We had tried written tests and found that 2 of our best students were failing, not because they did not know the material, but because their reading and writing skills were being tested and not their knowledge of first-aid. We met in the middle of June to plan a rigorous series of 6 accidents. Each accident had a victim, 2 first-aid practitioners an interpreter and an evaluator – unless the evaluator’s Sign skills were good enough to allow her to combine the functions. The victims were purposely both Deaf and Hearing, and some were complete strangers who had never worked with Deaf people before. We made sure more than one of the victims was a White woman.

The problems were: heart attack, open fracture of the jaw, second and third degree burns of the arm, Annie in asphyxiation, a suicide attempt using drugs, a fall from a ladder, shock and a fractured leg. Props and moulages were used and the blood flowed like wine, but no special allowances were made for physical reticence or the problems of inability to communicate with the Hearing. The students were forced to make Hearing strangers understand their intentions by whatever means were at their command. In this, they were remarkably successful.

We had often spoken of two pars of our goal for the class. First, that we might begin to train Deaf adults in first-aid skills and safety-consciousness, second, that we might be able to find and train a small cops of Deaf instructors who would be able to train other Deaf people, with more punch, wit and relevance the new could ever bring to such a course. We have proven that the first is not only possible, but practical and pleasurable for both students and instructors. We are now looking forward to accomplishing the second goal, using the top students of our first class as potential instructors. Training will begin this fall.

Throughout this account, I have tried to give a feeling of what we learned, good and bad, in our class. There are a few other recommendations we could give to Hearing first-aid people who want to teach the Deaf of varied reading levels. The point about instructors learning Sign has been made before, but is important enough to be repeated. Instructors should be prepared for surprises, good and bad, and they need to understand some of the dynamics of Deafness. Group teaching and continuous feedback assure that automatic answers won’t be taken for real learning.

Instructors will have to train themselves not to hear the extraneous harsh sounds made by some Deaf people. Some will have very poor speech, which may be incomprehensible as well as unpleasant. Sign is a further help there. Finally, fancy-pants interpreters or instructors are not good for work with low verbal Deaf people. Esophagus sounds scientific, but throat is the word that will be understood, and while myocardial infarction may be mentioned, heart attack is the phrase that has meaning. Signing instructors will know when the interpreter is speaking simply. If and instructor needs to know where to get an interpreter, she might go to the state school for the Deaf, and ask for the name of a solid no-frills Signer.

I have talked about work and problems. I have not talked about the pleasure of communicating with people starving to death for communication, o the joy of helping to heal decades-old wounds made by isolation. In the first-aid manual, it speaks of “promotion of confidence by demonstration of competence,” For the Deaf, that confidence is a prize above rubies.

Joanne Greenberg was born in 1932, in Brooklyn, NY. She was educated at American University and received and honorary Doctorate from Gallaudet University – the world’s only college for the Deaf. She has written 2 books on the subject and has spent decades working with state mental hospitals for appropriate care for the mentally ill Deaf.

What does placing your signature on the Miranda Waiver Really Mean?

By Jean F. Andrews

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

Deaf suspects are asked routinely to sign the Miranda Warning Waiver affirming they waive their rights. What does this mean? For the police and detectives this means that the deaf person understands the six statements of the Miranda and read it with comprehension. When they sign their name on the waiver, this means they waive their rights to remain silent, seek an attorney before questioning and so on.

However, the deaf person may sign their name and have a different view. A deaf defendant who may read at the third grade or below may not be able to read the Miranda. They may put their signature on the document simply to appear cooperative.

How can the detective determine if the deaf person understands the Miranda Warning? One way is to have a sign language interpreter present.

This rarely happens. Typically, police and detectives rely on written communication and lipreading which are rarely effective for deaf defendants whose primary language is American Sign Language (ASL).

Two viewpoints–one from the detective or police and one from the deaf defendants.

The police and detectives run the risk of having their interrogation and confessions of the defendant thrown out of court or suppressed if they fail to provide for a sign language interpreter. This is not only Federal law but is found in many state statutes as well.
What is the answer?
More education for detectives and police about the difficulties deaf adults have in comprehending the Miranda and the ensuring of providing deaf defendants with sign language interpreters.

[Editor's note: Recent changes by the Supreme Court involving the Miranda warning are worth noting. On June 1, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision to alter the familiar Miranda warning, adding a stipulation that requires suspects to outright state to investigators their desire to remain silent, in the same way they must specifically ask for an attorney. For more on this critical change to your legal rights, go here: or here:]

This is Actually Pretty Funny

I got it from Deaf News Today. It’s captioned, so everybody should be able to appreciate it.



Not Providing Interpreters for Deaf Persons Can Result in Tragedy as Loss of Life as Well as Be Costly for Jail Systems

Shawn Francisco Vigil, died in prison. He was not provided an interpreter during the medical/psychological intake process, was placed in isolation and committed suicide.

Below, the link to the Denver Post‘s coverage:

Jail officials had housed Vigil in a special unit away from the general population and failed to do any “meaningful analysis of whether he posed a substantial danger to himself,” according to the lawsuit that was filed by Debbie Ulibarri, Vigil’s mother.

In recognition of their negligence, Denver has agreed to pay a settlement to Ulibarri’s family in the amount of $695,000.

The suit alleged the city did not adequately train staff, didn’t have proper accommodations for hearing impaired inmates, failed to provide a sign language interpreter and did not screen the inmate for mental health concerns.

You Learn Lessons in Some Strange Places

I was at my endocrinologist‘s clinic this morning – wowing him with my stellar

Speak Out: Sign language interpretation

Speak Out: Sign language interpretation (Photo credit: Grant Neufeld)

physicality – when an interesting exchange took place. It appears, that his patient immediately after me, required an interpreter. “Sign language?” I asked, obsessive individual that I’m known to be. “Nope, Spanish,” he said. “Problem is, they won’t wait – they’re such prima donnas,” he lamented.

He went on to tell me that that the interpreters and translators, employed by the hospital will stay as long as necessary when they’re actually doing their job, but they will only spend 15 minutes in the waiting room. “Then, they just up and split. They don’t care that we may have a problem case that’s holding up everybody else. They don’t get how hard it is, being a doctor, I guess.”

“No,” says I. “That’s not it at all. It’s the hospital itself. The bean counters upstairs feel that if an interpreter is sitting on her fundament in the waiting room, she’s not earning her pay. I’ll bet you anything they’re told they won’t be paid for time not actually interpreting.”

I went to the U.S. Department of Labor site, and found this link:

English: pictures of 2 sign language interpret...

Two sign language interpreters working together as a team for a student association meeting. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)




Inmate Letter from Montana – 2nd in HEARD series

Here’s the link to the PDF of this second inmate letter, courtesy of HEARD.

HEARD Montana Inmate Letter

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The Man Behind the Curtain Explains the Dials and Buzzers

I’m working on the transcript for #5 in the Felix Garcia series, and at the same time, working on the video for #6. For today’s post however, I thought I’d give you some insight into the tech work behind these videos. Bringing you this interview is really a pretty big job.

The files came to me originally on 2 DVDs, each one-hour in length. I extract them from the DVDs in the MP4 format. They are about 4Gb in size, 1280 by 720 frame size, at 30FPS. They are progressive interlaced. The audio track is 16 bit stereo – 44.1 sample rate.

I convert them into WMVs with no compression or changes in frame size or rate. I then cut them into 4-15 minute segments. The uncompressed segments are rendered and copied over onto a private file server, where the interpreter can download them. She watches them in real time, while recording a separate audio file, which she then uploads back onto the file server.

Her audio file is mono, and contains her translation voice-over, + all the audio information from the original. Using Adobe Audition on my audio editing machine, I copy her entire file and make a duplicate track, so the file will be in stereo. I then do some post-production mastering on the new stereo file, including audio compression and equalization. Finally, I normalize the two-track mix to –6Db.

Still on the audio editor, I extract the original audio tracks from the segment and master them as well, including the –6Db normalization.

Now, I switch over to my video-editing machine. This is my most powerful computer. Core 2 duo, with 8 gigs of DDR-3. I use 3 video editing programs on this machine – Adobe Premier, Video Edit Magic, and my personal favorite, Serif Movie Plus. Premier is the most professional, and it can do more heavy lifting, but it’s insanely priced and cumbersome to use. Video Edit magic is cheap but limited. Movie Plus is fast, easy to use, does almost everything I want – and doesn’t require a second on the house.

I now have 3 independent files to work with – the video track, and two separate audio tracks. I sync the original audio track back to the video track as a reference. I pan this track all the way to one side. I then insert the voice-over track and pan it all the way to the other side. I turn both tracks up full, and using the stereo separation, manually sync the voice-over track to the reference track. Once I have them synced up with no perceivable doubling or echo, I re-pan them back to center and reset the mix volume to –14dB.

Almost done. After readjusting the aspect ratio to allow for the captions, I have to insert yet another video track for them. This is actually a separate video file that gets created in real time and synched to the other 3 files. I have to listen to the audio tracks, and manually type in the individual captions. This gets separately rendered into a file and re-synched back into the mix.

Finally, the file must be compressed for uploading to the site. This is tricky, because I need to make it much smaller, but if I make it too small, the quality suffers. It can become choppy, garbled and hard to watch. After some experimentation in both what I would accept for quality, and what WordPress will accept for size, I ended up with a file that is 50Mb, down from 5 gig – 512 by 288, still at 30FPS. The audio is still 16 bit, 44-1 and other than loss due to the algorithm most of the trimming is in frame size.

I re-render it to this spec, and upload onto the site. All together, it takes a little over a week to make each segment.

I hope you enjoyed this little foray into my sick, sick world.

Not Everything is Captioned

An Old Philco Predicta TV. This was the iPad of its day. Image courtesy of

Sometime ago, a Deaf friend asked me to interpret the 10:00 News. Captioning doesn’t always work with live TV feeds from on scene reporters, so I was glad to comply.

“All of it,” she said.


First, was a statement that the President said the country was on an even keel. Things were improving. This was said by the reporter, whose name was featured.

“Who is saying that, the President or the reporter?”

Then the President said the same thing.

“Huh?” my friend said.

“Shut up,” I said sweetly. Next the head of a citizens group in Chicago stated that the President is completely wrong. Things are not getting better, they’re getting worse. This was said by another reporter. Then we saw the citizen’s group representative saying the same thing.

“He said the same thing. How do we know who is right, and on what basis is their estimate made?”

“Shut up,” I said cheerily. Then we had commercials, which I interpreted.

“Ridiculous” she said.

Then, a report of a fire, a couple of hit and runs and a drive by shooting. More commercials. The weather – self explanatory. Lastly, a reporter told us, that he was speaking from the gold reserve center at Fort Knox, Kentucky. If the drain of gold leaving the United States isn’t stopped in 3 days, the country will be left with huge gold deficits which would result in an immediate crisis.

“Oh my goodness!” cried my friend. “How could this terrible thing have happened? Won’t the government marshall all its powers to stop this – what a crisis!”

“Crisis, nothing” I said, and I turned off the set. “We get crises every evening. I never heard of this one before – and I know I’ll never hear it again. Choose your cataclysm. But, you wanted the news that hearing people get – and you got it.”

“But it doesn’t make any sense.”

“That’s why they call it the boob tube.”


“Shut up,” I said, “and drink your brandy.”

Inspired by a Lipreading Mom

A recent conversation with Shanna Groves and Marsha Graham regarding the Girl Scouts unwillingness to utilize interpreters, got me to thinking. The Internet is the greatest invention of the 20th century because it creates channels of access that were previously unavailable.

Blog publishing is one example. Prior to the Internet, those of us who wanted to write, needed either a publisher or steady media employment. Now, anybody with an Internet connection can be another Proust.

The same holds true with communications technologies for the Deaf. In the old days, an ASL interpreter was the only option open to Deaf people seeking to communicate with the hearing. Now, we have numerous Internet and intranet options.

One such option is C.A.R.T. or Computer Assisted Realtime Translation.  Here’s the link to the N.A.D. Page:

and here’s the Wiki page:

But there’s an option that I find even more exiting. Internet Interpreting. We already have videophone services that allow the Deaf to talk on regular phones without having to use the cumbersome typing keyboards associated with TTY communications.

Internet Interpreting would be essentially the same thing, but it could be done through something like Skype, allowing for interpreting services via laptop or even smartphone.

I don’t know if these services actually exist yet, but they should – and they can. They can be implemented fairly inexpensively, allow for increased employment and deployment of ASL interpreters, and vastly benefit both the Deaf and hearing communities.

The above image is a shot of dear old Eniac – the first real digital computer in the universe, circa 1944. It utilized tens of thousands of vacuum tubes, was programmed via punch tape and had the computing power of a modern digital wristwatch.

The One Lovely Blog Award

August 1, 2012

I received a message recently, nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award by Marsha Graham of iPhonePhotoMaven at (She publishes several other blogs – her fingers are bleeding on the keyboard.)

Thank you, Marsha, for your nomination. I’m glad you enjoy  We work hard at presenting news and information regarding the issue of Deaf incarceration, in an interesting and enjoyable format. Accepting this award is an honor, and a great opportunity to mention some of the blogs that have had an influence on us.

There are five guidelines for accepting this award:

Link back to the blogger who nominated you.

  1. Paste the award image on your blog, anywhere.
  2. Tell seven facts about yourself.
  3. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award.
  4. Contact the bloggers that you have chosen to let them know that they have been nominated.

Seven facts about me: (Since I’m the editor/administrator for this blog, but neither the site owner – publisher, nor the sole content creator, I feel it necessary to share some of the wealth.)

1. When I’m not blogging, I’m a pro-am boxer. That is to say that although I don’t make money fighting for purses, I train like a pro – 12 round fights at 3 minutes a round. I fight once a week, and spend about 2 hours a day training.

2. is the brainchild of Joanne Greenberg from an impetus by McCay Vernon. Dr. Vernon was looking to co-author a book on the subject, but Ms. Greenberg convinced him of the advantages of an online approach.

3.  My Gravatar is Jack.  Jack is a Chow-Lab mix. He was born to a dog-fighting ring in Georgia, and due to his lack of size was unceremoniously left by the side of the road with his mother and siblings. His mother was hit and killed by a passing car, and the rescue organization – Old Fella Burke County Animal Rescue – found him, starving and afraid – suckling at her corpse. They sent him up to Northeast Animal Shelter – a no kill shelter – in Salem, MA.

4. If you’ve been watching our video series, Felix Garcia in His Own Words, you’ve undoubtedly been impressed by the job done by our wonderful interpreter. Here’s something I didn’t know about ASL interpreting. In this world of self-promotion and overnight Internet fame – the ASL interpreter views her work in somewhat the same light, as does a doctor or a priest. That is to say that they want to keep their names out of the public view, and maintain a confidentiality regarding their clients.

5. I have lived many past lives. I’ve been an audio-video engineer, a computer engineer, a rock and roll soundman, a cabbie, a truck driver and numerous things that are a lot less pride-worthy. Most recently, however, I was a Diabetic. I was obese – at a body fat percentage of over 30%, and I almost died of Diabetic shock before my diagnosis. I have beaten the disease, using diet and exercise. My blood work has been that of a non-Diabetic for the last 3 years, and I’ve been off any medication. Doctors generally view this as impossible.

6. Not all Sign is ASL. Apparently, in Guatemala the Deaf speak Lensegua. Some quick research reveals that just about every country has a unique version of Sign language. There is also a Lingua Franca version called International Sign, and another American form called Signed Exact English. ASL however, is the big dog in the tall grass. It’s the 4th most commonly spoken language in the World.

7. is constantly seeking content. We need to hear from anyone who’s Deaf and has been – or is currently – incarcerated or has interacted with Law Enforcement. Conversely, we need to hear from those on the other side of the glass, so to speak. If you are a Corrections Officer or Police Officer who has interacted with the Deaf, please contact us. This is extremely important. We want nothing more than to tell this story fairly, and with both sides represented.


The next part of the award is nominating other bloggers:

1. Improving Police  A blog site by a former Police commissioner, who works to improve the way policing is done.

2. Nanoy Manga Teaches the art of Manga, and religiously follows I can always count on a “Like” from him, and that earns my gratitude.

3. Lipreading Mom A blogger – and actual real life writer – discusses what raising hearing children is like for a HoH individual.

4. MadMike’s America My mentor and inspiration. They have an army of contributors, post like a Colorado wild fire, and have a vast readership. If ever becomes even 1/10th as huge – I can die and go to Heaven.

5. Law Office of Marsha Graham One of Ms. Graham’s many blogs. All this and a working attorney. Where does she find the time?

6. Another Boomer Blog – This too, is a Marsha Graham blog. Her support for the project has been invaluable, and if it were up to me, she’d win her own special award.

7. Ricky’s Medical Blog mentioned above, I like to climb into a ring with a 200 pound bone-breaker and throw it around. So, dare I say it – I’m pretty buff. Well, this guy makes me look like the proverbial 90 pound weakling. He’s also a doctor, a personal trainer and a behavioral scientist. His articles are factual and informative – and they deal in science – not rumor, mythology or urban legend.

8. Prisonmovement’s Weblog One of the sites that I consider a sister site to We commonly reblog each other, and their cause is much in sync with our own. A great site, and one that I’m proud to associate myself with.

9. Terpshands One area, which concerns itself with, is ASL interpretation. The need for qualified interpreters is great. Terpshands is such an interpreter.

10. CrimeDime Mentioning CrimeDime here is as much an honor as it is a pleasure. They too, are what I consider a sister site to our own, but they’ve been of immeasurable help to me in starting They interviewed me, and published it as a four part series. My head still won’t fit through my front door. I’ve said this before, but CrimeDime – you guys are the bomb!

11. iPhonePhotoBlogging So, along with all her other talents, Marsha Graham is also a photographer. And just to make matters more challenging, she creates all this beautiful work with an iPhone.

12. Ellexa Press LLC Not exactly a blog site, per se, but the home of one of’s favorite interpreters.

13. H.E.A.R.D. Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf. Again, not necessarily a blog site, but they’ve been relentless in both their fight to aid Deaf prisoners, and in their support of

14. Blog Catalog This is a blog site aggregator. Once listed on here, they help promote your blog. It’s kind of like the Zagat guide for bloggers. Civilians can go here to read reviews and ratings of your blog.

15. Solitary Watch The Web site of Jim Ridgeway. He’s the journalist who interviewed Felix Garcia in prison, from which we’ve made our hugely successful video series. Mr. Ridgeway has worked for prison reform and the abolishment of solitary confinement – for many years.

Felix in His Own Words – Part I

This video, part I in a series, represents the culmination of the combined efforts of James Ridgeway – who owns the copyright, Pat Bliss – who assisted in the filming, our wonderful interpreter – who requested anonymity, but did an awesome job – and myself – who turned the knobs and punched the buttons.

My original intention was to provide the interpretation in the form of subtitles, but I quickly became aware that our interpreter’s voice-over was so expressive and packed with emotion, that subtitles simply wouldn’t do justice to the feeling of the piece.

This stands alone as one of the single most powerful interviews I have ever seen.

Pat Bliss has informed me that Felix has recently been transferred to a camp with other Deaf, and has not again, experienced the trauma expressed in this video.

Please note: On the right hand side of the control bar, you will find a button that allows for full screen viewing. If you view this video in the embedded mode – not full screen – you will need to move your mouse off the page. That will cause the control bar to disappear, allowing you to read the captions.

Deaf Illinois inmates sue for access to interpreters – Peoria, IL –


Deaf Illinois inmates sue for access to interpreters – Peoria, IL –

I’m looking for an update to this story. Will keep you posted.

Pre-trial Motions

[Editor's Note: Although this pertains to the Felix Garcia case, I wanted Pat to post it on the scroll, because I believe we can all benefit from any insight as to the inner workings of the Court system. After all, forewarned is forearmed, and where the Courts are concerned, there but for the grace of God...]

[Author's Note: This is sort of a monotonous time for most everyone involved. I say most as you still have those attorneys who find every aspect of the trial process exciting. At the September 25, 1981 hearing where Felix was given court appointed counsel, Attorney Raul Palomino entered a Not Guilty Plea on behalf of his client/defendant. With that, the pre-trial motions start. I will highlight some of them that I hope will give you, the reader, some insight into the motion aspect of a trial. I will leave out mentioning the Criminal Rule numbers, Constitutional amendments, any mundane speech, to try to make it informative yet not boring.]

1. Demand For Discovery.

This is where the defense demands the State to disclose within 15 days all the information they have against his client. It is pretty standard in every one:

A)   Names of all persons of interest relevant to the offense charged and to any defense with respect thereto.

B)   Any statements made by any person listed in preceding paragraph.

C)   Any oral or written statement by the defendant.

D)   Any tangible papers or objects obtained or belonged to the defendant.

E)   Any material or information provided by a confidential informant and name.

F)   Any electrical surveillance or wiretapping of the premise or conversations to which the defendant was a party to.

G)   Any search and seizure of any documents.

H)   Reports or statements of experts made in connection with this case, including results of mental or physical examinations, and scientific tests, experiments or comparisons.

I )   Any material information within the State’s possession or control which tends to negate the guilt of the Defendant as to the offense charged, or to        punishment, or the credibility of the State’s witnesses.

What the Defense here is requesting from the State is to inspect, copy, test and photograph this information so everyone begins the trial on equal ground. The Defense wants to know what the State knows that makes them certain they have the right person. The Defense then builds its defense on what it receives. If you heard the term Prosecutorial Misconduct, it generally stems from this request. The State may inadvertently or purposely leave out, misplace or hide information, or whatever, and because of it, the Defendant doesn’t get a fair trial. I might add that in return, the Defense shares their list of witnesses and exhibits with the State.

2. Motion For Statement Of Particulars.

This motion demands the State to show exactly what the evidence was that lead to an arrest of the Defendant. This motion is tailored to the alleged crime charged in the Indictment.

A)   Exact date on which the offense alleged in the Indictment occurred.

B)   Exact time on which the offense alleged in the Indictment occurred.

C)   Exact place or addresses where the offense alleged in the Indictment                        occurred.

D)   Particular description of the firearm which was allegedly utilized.

E)   Whether crime charged in the Indictment is predicated on the theory of

premeditated murder or felony-murder, and if on felony-murder, the type of  felony allegedly perpetrated at the time of the alleged homicide.

F)   Whether the Defendant was the actual perpetrator or an aider and abetter of  the offense alleged in the Indictment; if the Defendant was an aider and         abetter, whether or not the Defendant’s actions made him accountable for the    crime charged as an accessory before the fact or as a principal in the first             degree or as a principal in the second degree.

This is to pin down the State to exactness and not generalities or broadness. This can also be used as a factor if there has been a change in law during the period of the alleged transaction and the trial to determine, if found guilty, the degree of punishment at sentencing.

3. Motion For Statement of Particulars Relating To Aggravating Circumstances.

This case was filed as a Capital Felony (where the death penalty was a possibility). These trials are done in two phases –  Guilt Phase and Sentencing Phase. When the Defendant is found guilty, then the Sentencing Phase begins. At this juncture, the State will introduce aggravating circumstances to enhance the punishment – to prove that death is warranted. This motion is gleaning the proof the State intends to adduce at sentencing which is:

A)   Whether the State intends to prove that the Defendant has previously been  convicted of another Capital Felony or a Felony involving the use or threat of    violence to the person, and if so, the nature of the previous conviction, the          date thereof, the Court in which said conviction occurred, the style of the             case and case number, and any other relevant particulars.

B)   [ I’ll be more brief on the rest.] Whether the State intends to prove the            Defendant  knowingly created a great risk of death to any persons.

C)   Whether the State intends to prove the Capital Felony was committed while  the Defendant engaged in, an accomplice, or attempt to commit another               criminal act: robbery, rape, arson etc.

D)   Whether the State intends to prove the Capital Felony was committed for the purpose of avoiding or preventing lawful arrest or effecting an escape from   custody.

F)    Whether the State intends to prove the Capital Felony was committed for     pecuniary gain.

G)   Whether the State intends to prove the Capital Felony was committed to        disrupt or hinder lawful exercise of any governmental function or                             enforcement of laws.

H)   Whether the State intends to prove the Capital Felony was especially               heinous, atrocious or cruel.

This last particular  is generally the one the public is most acquainted with. And is the issue on appeal the most times before any court in a death sentence. There will be witnesses at the Sentencing Phase and the Defense will also ask the State for a list of their witnesses and experts, and what aggravating circumstance will they will be related to.

Just so you know, the Defense will introduce Mitigating circumstances at Sentencing to try to cancel out any enhancements towards death versus Life. We’ll get to that later.

Deaf slaying suspect had also stabbed another woman | Richmond Times-Dispatch

Deaf slaying suspect had also stabbed another woman | Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The Secret World of Deaf Prisoners | Mother Jones

Here’s another article from Mother Jones, by James Ridgeway.


The Secret World of Deaf Prisoners | Mother Jones.

Don’t Talk to Police – The Coolest Explanation You Will Ever Get


If hearing people can’t get a fair shake during an arrest procedure, think how the Deaf must fare.

Originally posted on CrimeDime:

You have to watch this video twice. The first time, you will be mesmerized by this law professor’s raw talent for averaging 22.6 words per second with an unmatched ability to simultaneously entertain, wave his hand around, chew gum, rub his belly, and pat the top of head without breathing. Okay, I exaggerated. But only a little.

The second time you watch the video, you can actually pay attention to the content. James Duane gives seven reasons to aspiring attorneys that their clients should never talk to the police.

1. There is no way it can help.

2. If your client is guilty — and even if he is innocent — he may admit his guilt with no benefit in return.

3. Even if your client is innocent and denies his guilt and mostly tells the truth, he can easily get carried away and tell some little lie or make…

View original 245 more words

The Horror of Being Deaf and in Prison

This is the finished version of the video we embedded in March. The original video was uploaded to YouTube by ASLKimber, and is a summation of an article written by McCay Vernon.  We thank her for allowing us to use it.

The wonderful interpreting work was performed by Diane Chambers. The technical magic was me. Enjoy.


Our First Ever Audio File

This is an edit of an interview I did with a deaf woman who was arrested a few years ago in Arizona. The interview was conducted via the Video Interpreting Service. It is worth noting, how expressive and conversant this woman sounds in the interview. Bear in mind, that the voice you’re hearing is the voice of the interpreter, not the woman herself.

This is the miracle of ASL. Due to the interpreter’s fluency in the language, she is able to add inflection and non-verbal content.


How Would You Handle This?

“Pete Castle” was away from home, and going into freshman year at a community college in Denver. College for him, was a completely new cultural experience. Because of his deafness, much ordinary life skills had passed him by.
Here he was in a laundromat, strange to him, his mother always having done his wash. School had taken up his day, so it was after 7PM and dark at this time of the year.

Pete had learned, long ago not to trust his “deaf” voice. Hearing people found it harsh, and sometimes had trouble understanding the sounds he made, which, of course, he couldn’t hear himself making.

There was only one other person in the laundromat, a young woman of about the same age as Pete, but with obvious competence, as she put paper money into a change machine and picked up the quarters necessary to start the process.

Following her, Pete slipped his dollar in as he had seen her do. The bill kicked back. Again. Again. He wanted to find out what was going wrong. He went over to the girl whose back was to him, came close and put a hand on her shoulder. She screamed and turned, screaming. Her body language mirrored pure terror. He tried to reassure her, but the combination of his coarse, unintelligible voice, his violation of her personal space and his hand on her, brought screams from her that were heard in the street. Soon an assault in progress brought the police – and handcuffs. His incomprehensible explanation brought the use of the Taser.

There was no interpreter at the station house, and no explanation on ether side. Cultural differences were too great. The young man was charged with assault and attempted rape. It was days before an astute judge called in a signing counselor, and the charges were ramped down to a misdemeanor.

Pete lost valuable school time.

Deaf people tend to stand closer to each other than hearing people do. Deaf people tend to use physical means of expression. Seldom is there formal teaching about man-woman relations.
The change machine at the laundromat had been unable to read the codes on the new multicolored bills.

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