Justice Silenced Campaign – Re: Sept. 4th Meeting

This is a PDF letter written to General Council Greg Buzzard. This letter was written as a follow-up to a meeting that took place on September 4th.

Represented were: AdvoCare, and C.U.R.E. National (Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants), Embracing Lambs, Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD), and The Justice Silenced Campaign.

DeafInPrison.com was surely there in spirit.

The injustices that Deaf and Hard of Hearing Citizens endure in the Courts, interactions with Law Enforcement, and in the Correctional System, are beyond reproach.

Click on this link to view the entire letter:


We wish to emphasize the urgency for the establishment of a bipartisan/bicameral Congressional Caucus for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Citizens that would focus on common legislative objectives to assure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and other laws that protect people with disabilities, in all aspects of the government, including, our Courts, Law Enforcement, and the Correctional System.

An Inmate Letter from Utah – Courtesy of HEARD

This is one of four Inmate Letters I received from HEARD, in my inbox last night. I will be posting them today, as I get them converted and redacted. We need to redact all inmate letters to protect the safety of these brave individuals who speak out against an unfair and unjust system.

Although I get them as PDF files, and reconvert them back into PDF files to post, you lose the ability to see the sticky notes placed on the originals by HEARD. In a way, this is good, because these are internal notations that are not intended for the eyes of the public. On the other hand however, I regret that you can’t see them because they provide insight into just how much great work the people at HEARD are doing for these individuals.

Here’s the first one:


Innocent deaf woman spends 60 hours in jail without interpreter – From Prisonmovent’s Weblog


Prisonmovement’s Weblog

This story is reblogged from Prisonmovement’s Weblog. It is more on the story of Lashonn White, a story we covered on August 8th.


“I mean imagine—all I did was come running, wave my hands and come running out, and the next thing I know I’m on the ground,” White explained to Halsne through a certified American Sign Language interpreter.

Here’s the link to Prisonmovement’s coverage.




She was attacked in her home, and called Tacoma, WA. police via video interpreting service. The service – as they always do – identified her to police as a Deaf individual. When police arrived at her home, she ran out of the house seeking their protection. They yelled “Stop,” which she, of course, couldn’t hear – so they tasered her.


Halsne discovered that when someone who doesn’t speak English is booked into the Pierce County Jail, staff calls interpreters on the phone so they can explain basic information to the new inmate like charges, medical needs and the time of their initial court date.

Deaf inmates don’t get that same courtesy because the jail does not have a video phone which allows for sign language communications.

Now, unfortunate though it may be, I do understand their actions. Police are faced with life and death situations every day. They often don’t have the luxury of being able to use judgement beyond survival instinct. What I don’t get however, is how they can then lock her up, without an interpreter, for 3 full days.


Prisonmovement’s Weblog is – as most of you already know – one of our favorite sites, and they did an excellent job with this post. Please click on the above link and learn more.


English: A Video Relay Service session, where ...

English: A Video Relay Service session, where a Deaf, Hard-Of-Hearing or Speech-Impaired individual can communicate with a hearing person via a Video Interpreter (a Sign Language interpreter), using a videophone or similar video telecommunication unit. The hearing person with whom the Video Interpreter is also communicating can not be seen in the photo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Guest Post from Marsha Graham

The above image is a picture of an old and dear friend of mine. It’s an analog synthesizer as manufactured by Buchla – circa 1975. I used to program these bad boys. While doing so, I learned of a device called a Votrax. This was a speech synthesizer that was supposed to be able to convert text to speech. Problem was… well, it didn’t work too well.

I should also tell you that part 5 of Felix’s interview will be up tomorrow. I was hoping to have it ready for you today, but I ran into a problem with the aspect ratio – which took me some time to fix. The interview is very good though, and he devotes a lot more time to language and communication issues.

All of which has nothing whatsoever to do with this post.


A few days ago, we posted an article about Internet Interpreting possibilities, entitled Inspired by a Lipreading Mom. This response was written by Marsha Graham – a fellow blogger for whom we have much respect and gratitude.

I’d like to clarify some things. I don’t know everything, but I’m getting a pretty good grip on communication modalities.

CART is relatively good for oral deaf (note the lower case for deaf), while it is less good for the Deaf (upper case – Deaf culture) community. CART has it’s limitations as the operator has to load “dictionaries” in it. It is a stenotype machine, not a typewriter.

For someone who is a native ASL speaker CART is in English. ASL is NOT English. ASL uses some English words, particularly in finger spelling. However, ASL is its own language. It came from French Sign Language. We still have about 60% compatibility with FSL. SEE is English. ASL (not SEE) is the 4th most spoken language in America. That will probably change in the next few decades to reflect SEE in schools.

I was talking with a terp friend and we were discussing signing songs. She mentioned a line of a song and I realized that in ASL it would have none of the same “words” as in English. The grammar is different, the syntax is different. When we see people signing songs on YouTube it is really more SEE or PSE than ASL.

I don’t see using a lot of technology to fill the gap outside of office locations – at least not at this time. I can use FaceTime to talk to Deaf friends, but the Girl Scout needed someone to be there for rock wall climbing. This isn’t happening on an iPhone or even a 4G iPad. Human required. And, honestly, captioning is cold in comparison to human to human communication.

I have a friend who uses Captel and it is okay for when the CI isn’t cutting it and she needs help while on the road (on her cell phone). Other than that she uses VP.

Technology like Purple is fine for doctor’s offices and stuff but it is not ready for prime time for things like scout troops.

Social media connects lots of people including the deaf, the blind, the physically disabled, etc. It levels the playing field in many ways. However, it is also true that many native ASL signers who are older and were not educated using SEE are often wretched communicators in writing. They do better with VLOGS. As I said, ASL and English are distinct languages.

Ditto the blind – individuals who are blind from birth and use braille as a first written language often have terrible written English skills as braille 2 and 3 are full of contractions (to save space). I’ve been on email lists with many blind from birth and many of them cannot spell, punctuate, etc to save their lives.

I suppose that I should add that the pre-lingually Deaf Blind have the added difficulty of using ASL to talk with humans and Braille to read and write. The issue with higher grades of Braille (Grade 1 equates letter to letter with English) use contractions, so by the time the Deaf Blind child really gets into “writing” Braille is the way to go. Braille, due to it’s contractions, it is not written English. It is sort of like the phonemes the stenotype machine converts into English. When Deaf Blind go on the net, unless someone has schooled them how to convert Grade 3 Braille into English, they have serious problems with written communication.

And how do I know all this? Ex was blind and learned Grade 1 Braille late in life as he had been partially sighted much of his life and learned English. Grade 1 Braille is English. When he hit Grade 2 Braille it was like he hit a wall. All he ended up doing was labeling things with grade 1. I knew probably a thousand blind folks online through him and even tested Jaws For Windows, Window Eyes, and HAL and wrote a technical paper on them comparing the ins and outs of those text to speech screen readers.

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.


Image courtesy of Lipreading Mom

Another example where a video interpreting service would work effectively. It’s free, widely available on both the Internet and through a closed circuit television system. This would eliminate the expense to G.S.A., and serve the needs of the Deaf members. I recently did an interview on DeafInPrison.com with a young woman. The interview lasted 2 nights, for 1 hour each night. It was done via telephone through a video interpreting service. It worked beautifully, and allowed a Hearie like me an opportunity to carry on a rich and insightful conversation with a Deaf person.

Originally posted on Lipreading Mom:

As a person with hearing loss and a former Girl Scout, a recent story in the Chicago Tribune about a 12-year-old girl who is Deaf being denied sign language interpretation is disheartening. Her troop paid for an interpreter, then apparently was unable to continue doing so and disbanded. Now, the young girl’s parents are suing the troop. This is 2012, not 1982. Why should anyone have to sue to get a sign interpreter?

Sadly, litigation is the bold step that’s often needed to ensure accessibility for the deaf and hard of hearing, as well as everyone with unique physical challenges. Remember the lawsuit against Cinemark Theaters and its lack of captioned movie showings? Since then, the theater chain nationwide offers captioned movies. How about the lawsuits against CNN.com failing to provide captioned content? I blogged extensively about CNN a few months ago, and yet the news organization’s website still lacks…

View original 164 more words

A Radio for the Deaf

[It’s a rare pleasure to get some good news from a Deaf prisoner, and this letter is one example. As I write Felix Garcia’s story, I thought I would like to share this letter from him, with you – our readers.

Pat Bliss]

Image Courtesy Pat Bliss


Ms. Patricia Bliss

Hello Mom! :) Yesterday they called me to the property room and gave me my special radio and a letter from you. It was the day before yesterday that I called you on the phone. Wow Mom. The radio works great with this new hearing aid. Right now I have several Christian stations in preset. I have 88.9, 94.5, 91.5 and 89.7. And they’re great. I sing in Sign language. I can’t understand all the words but Mom this is great. I love it so much. It’s the hearing aids that made the difference. I can see now with a very strong set of hearing aids I can do almost anything. I let all the other Deaf try out the system using my new hearing aid and they were shocked on how strong this new hearing aid is. The radio does not work on any of their hearing aids except for one guy which shocked me also. I still have my old hearing aid and it works with that one but nothing like this new one. It still does not work with the T.V. and that’s because there is something wrong with the T.V. or the box but I get Christian stations and Christian songs. Yeah!!!!! :)

This morning I did a Bible study at 5 in the morning on 88.9 called Weapon of Praise, Psalm 9:1-3 and 2 chronicles 20:1-22. It was great. The Lord has truly blessed me this day. What other Christian music can I get? Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, :)

Oh, I like this song that’s on now. It’s called “When I’m Alone with You.” {Calling me away when I’m alone with you – your glory shines, when I’m running again – all I have is you – you break this heart of stone}.

Image courtesy Pat Bliss

God, Mom. It feels so good to hear Christian music again. I love God so much. It’s my way of singing to Him. I cry out in songs with Signing. He loves us Mom, God is good. He really watches out for us. I just want to be around Him so much. Music, music, music. :) I’m so happy. This morning I prayed – for Jesus to wrap me up in this music and hide me. I slept so good last night.

He will make all things new, as we wait, as we watch, come because he is calling you. Just now I looked at the guy and said wake up. God loves you, and tomorrow is not promised, don’t miss out on the truth. Don’t let it pass you by. You may not get another chance. From the beginning of time, God has reigned and there is no other. Don’t be fooled by a false God. You owe it to yourself. Jesus is the only way. Be a rising star on the winning team. Look around you at this horrible place. Now look out that window at God’s creation, a lizard, a butterfly, the trees and the sky. God is good – all the time.

Happy Mother’s Day


I love you :)

Your Son

[Letter transcribed by BitcoDavid]

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