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Video Description: Erin, a caramel-skinned AfroLatina with red braids and wearing glasses. She is also wearing a black long sleeved top, signing ASL, in front of a black background with an orange and a yellow hand overlapping on the left side of her. On her right is “VISITATION FUND FAQ” in orange, yellow, and white text, respectively.

What is the HEARD Prison Visitation Fund?

HEARD provides up to $500 in monetary support to people visiting deaf/disabled incarcerated loved ones to help with the costs of travel (example: plane ticket, train ticket, bus ticket, hotel, gas, a support person, etc.). A visitor can only receive funds through this program once within a six-month period. 

Why is visitation important?

Deaf/disabled incarcerated people are isolated from their communities by carceral systems in many different ways. The majority of deaf/disabled incarcerated people still do not have consistent access to telecommunication like videophones, Video Relay Services (VRS), TTY, or captioned telephones. Deaf/disabled people in carceral facilities often experience retaliation or punishment while incarcerated and are frequently transferred to prisons far away from their loved ones, both of which create further isolation.

Visitation allows incarcerated people and their loved ones to strengthen relationships, share stories and updates about their lives, and show the facility that the incarcerated person has someone on the outside who cares for them. For many deaf/disabled incarcerated people, visitation is the only exposure to sign language that they have while incarcerated. We know that visitation helps incarcerated people strengthen their relationships, language, and identity – all things that support people in coming home and staying home. 

Unfortunately, visitation often has many barriers that keep loved ones apart. Prisons often require people to follow strict rules about clothing, identification, and visiting days and hours. People may have to take off work, drive long distances, or even travel to another state to visit a loved one.

HEARD started our Prison Visitation Fund to support our communities in resisting this forced isolation and in maintaining connection with deaf/disabled incarcerated loved ones.

How do I apply?

Please fill out this form. When there is no money left in the fund, the request form will close until the next cycle. The first cycle of the year is from January to June and the second cycle of the year is from July to December.

How can I donate to the Visitation Fund?

Who can apply?

Anyone visiting a deaf/disabled loved one currently incarcerated in the United States can apply. People who are deaf/disabled themselves with incarcerated loved ones who are not deaf/disabled may also apply (example: deaf parents visiting a CODA).  

Who gets funds?

When reviewing requests, HEARD considers a number of factors:

  • how far a person must travel to visit the incarcerated person
  • how long it has been since the person last visited their incarcerated loved one
  • whether the incarcerated person or the person visiting communicates in a signed/tactile language
  • whether the incarcerated person has consistent access to accessible telecommunication (telephone, TTY, videophone, etc.) to communicate with their loved ones

HEARD recognizes that everyone’s situation is different. We take a holistic approach to reviewing requests. However, in order to support the members of our community who are most impacted, this fund prioritizes people visiting deaf/disabled incarcerated people who use marginalized modes of communication (e.g., sign/tactile languages) and/or do not have access to telecommunication.

How long until I get a response from HEARD?

Please note that filling out this form does not promise that HEARD can support you. After receiving your response, a member of the HEARD team will reach out to you to gather any additional information.

HEARD’s team is very small. The HEARD team will do our best to contact you within two weeks. The more contact information you provide, the easier it will be for us to reach out to you.

2023 is HEARD’s first time doing the Prison Visitation Fund. Thank you for your trust and patience.