Monday August 20, 2018
HomeAdvocacy /  Prison Advocacy
Prison Advocacy PDF Print E-mail

Resources for Deaf Prisoner Advocacy


HEARD Monthly Newsletter

View & subscribe to our monthly newsletters here.


#DeafInPrison Fact Sheet

HEARD's #DeafInPrison Fact Sheet

ASL #DeafInPrison Fact Sheet

Deaf Prisoner Phone Justice Campaign

HEARD launched the Deaf Prisoner Phone Justice Campaign in 2012 to lobby the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to bring an end to exorbitant prisoner telephone rates that disproportionately impact deaf and hard of hearing prisoners and their family members.  We have submitted six comments to the FCC on this issue and our founder has been invited by the FCC to sit on two panels to discuss this issue. 

During the Campaign, HEARD mobilized unprecedented participation from hundreds of deaf prisoners, and scores of preeminent national civil rights organizations and law firms, including the American Civil Liberties Union; the Campaign for Prison Phone Justice; DeafCAN!; the Human Rights Defense Center; the National Association of the Deaf; the National Disability Rights Network; the Prison Policy Initiative; Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute of the Deaf Rosen, Bien, Galvan & Grunfeld, LLP; the United Church of Christ, OC Inc., and signatories; Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs; and several public defender offices, among many others.

These comments spoke to the isolating impact of inaccessible technology, sky-high rates, and additional fees being charged to prisoners using relay, that in most cases prevent them from communicating with anyone outside of prison. In addition, HEARD rallied members of the Deaf Community, family members of deaf prisoners and allies to submit comments about the unique impact of inaccessible telecommunications in prison for deaf prisoners and their family members and advocates. These comments illustrated how the absence of videophones and captioned telephones prevent deaf prisoners from connecting to their loved ones. They also illuminated issues related to systemic abuse of deaf prisoners that necessitates communication with advocates via sign language—a language that is unique from English. 

Here is the timeline of highlights from HEARD’s Deaf Prisoner Phone Justice Campaign, with links to our comments and the FCC Inmate Calling Services Reform Workshops. 

See below for links to all of HEARD's FCC comments regarding telecommunication access and deaf prisoners.

"Deaf in Prison" Documentary


HEARD worked with Al Jazeera America producers for more than two years on this groundbreaking documentary. This Al Jazeera America exclusive investigation, which originally aired in December 2013, features interviews from HEARD board members Pat Bliss & Talila “TL” Lewis; deaf prisoners from HEARD’s Deaf & Deaf-Blind Prisoner Database—the only national database of deaf prisoners; Felix Garcia, HEARD’s longest-serving deaf wrongfully convicted prisoner; and family members of deaf prisoners. 


Al Jazeera maintains all rights to this film and has not released it to the public despite HEARD’s requests to do so.  However, we encourage individuals, organizations, universities, etc., to host viewings and can provide a link to the documentary for educational purposes upon request.


Please email fill out this form to request access to the documentary link.


Do you know a deaf prisoner?  Please connect them with us!

HEARD created and maintains the only national database of Deaf and DeafBlind prisoners (an interactive pictorial representation of this database is below). We need your help to find deaf prisoners across the nation!  Please print this survey out and send it to your deaf incarcerated friends or loved ones if they are not already in HEARD’s database.



Note: This map is continually updated and may not reflect the current database numbers.

HEARD is a tax exempt organization under Internal Revenue Service Act Section 501(c)(3).  Our Tax Identification Number is 27-5032142
P.O. Box 1160, Washington, D.C. 20013 © HEARD. All rights reserved. 2018.