Education Report:  Sign Language Interpreters in Medical Settings

Imagine getting sick in, say, rural China. You’ve studied a bit of Chinese and decided to travel there. Then your stomach starts to hurt. A lot. No one at the hospital — from doctors to receptionists — speaks English, so when you try to communicate your symptoms in English, no one understands. They talk to you in Chinese and you understand the basics:  lie down here; where does it hurt? But you need to tell them your medical history; they need to tell you their diagnosis and proposed treatment. Now imagine you’ve come to the hospital in extreme pain, or severely injured in a car accident, or in labor. This is the experience Deaf people encounter every day in their own country in hospitals and doctors’ offices:  they need to explain their symptoms and history and to understand their diagnosis and treatment options in their native language — American Sign Language (ASL) — while medical personnel attempt to communicate with them using written notes or lip reading.  Since ASL is a completely different language from English — and the latter generally a second language for most Deaf people — this puts the Deaf patient in the same situation as the traveler above.  And written notes? Even if you’re fluent in English, imagine conducting your next doctor’s appointment — or emergency room visit or childbirth — by writing notes back and forth with doctors, nurses, and technicians; now imagine (if you’re native English speaker) writing back and forth in French or Russian. Imagine being a doctor and trying to obtain informed consent under these circumstances. Medical personnel should be insisting...

What’s IDAP Been Up To Lately?

Since its formation in September 2018, CREEC’s Immigration Detention Accountability Project (IDAP) has fought to assert the rights of and improve conditions for hundreds of immigrants in ICE custody in Colorado and across the nation and is laying the groundwork for future litigation efforts. Under Director Liz Jordan’s leadership, IDAP has focused on three key areas thus far: legal challenge of conditions of confinement in immigration detention centers, legal challenge of discrimination against detained immigrants with disabilities, and education and outreach on detention conditions and treatment of immigrants with disabilities. Recent projects include procurement of previously unreleased documents relating to life-threatening treatment of detainees in Colorado and California; cessation of improper use of federal prisons for immigrant detention in California; multiple advocacy efforts; and educational initiatives to raise public awareness of the conditions facing immigrant detainees and their civil rights. In an  ongoing transparency litigation case in Colorado, IDAP procured previously unreleased ICE documents relating to deaths of immigrants in detention and treatment of people with disabilities. These documents had never before been made public and are part of a larger effort to hold ICE accountable to the public through the release of information. Last summer, IDAP also filed a federal class action lawsuit in Victorville, California on behalf of asylum seekers who were being illegally held in a federal prison despite not having criminal convictions. As a result of CREEC’s lawsuit, the U.S. government’s practice of holding detainees who have not committed a crime was discontinued at this prison. Additionally, IDAP offers civil rights consultation to lawyers for immigrants with disabilities, represents people in ICE custody, advocates for...

Colorado Springs Agrees to Install over 15,000 Accessible Curb Ramps in Next 14 Years.

Release Date: March 20, 2019 Colorado Springs – The City of Colorado Springs has settled a class action lawsuit by committing to installing over 15,000 accessible curb ramps throughout the city in the next 14 years. Curb ramps provide people with mobility disabilities a safe way to get on and off sidewalks as they travel through the pedestrian right of way. People with disabilities are the largest minority group in the country. Census figures estimate that 56.7 million, or 1 in 5 Americans, has a disability.  In Colorado Springs alone, there are approximately 24,000 people with mobility disabilities who use wheelchairs, walkers, scooters or other mobility devices to get around. Missing, broken or poorly maintained curb ramps prevent people with mobility disabilities from safely using sidewalks, crosswalks and other walkways to participate in daily activities like getting to work or going to school. “I appreciate not only that this agreement will allow me to get to and from work more efficiently, but also that, when I find a problem, Colorado Springs has a system set up to resolve it. I look forward to my increased independence,” said Paul Spotts, one of the plaintiffs. Sharon King, another plaintiff, explains, “It’s frustrating when I am just trying to do my errands and I cannot get across a street because there is no curb ramp. I’m so excited that we have been able to reach this agreement with Colorado Springs so that I can get where I need to go without these barriers, just like everyone else.” “Federal and state disability access laws were enacted decades ago to provide persons with disabilities...

CREEC’s IDAP Director Quoted in Westword re: Aurora’s Immigration Detention Facility’s Expansion

Excellent article from Westword about Aurora’s Immigration Detention Facility’s sudden expansion. CREEC’s own IDAP Director, Liz Jordan, weighs in: “In June, ICE started moving hundreds of its detainees to federal prisons across the country because the government lacked enough space in its immigration detention center, according to an NPR report. In a lawsuit filed by the ACLU and Jordan’s organization in August 2018, lawyers representing plaintiffs in a prison in California argued that conditions there were deplorable. “As a result of the unconstitutional treatment of these civil detainees, many have expressed a desire to be returned, immediately, to their countries of origin — foregoing their claims for immigration relief altogether — because they would rather face the dangers back home than be imprisoned in these abysmal conditions,” part of the complaint reads. As of October 2018, ICE had largely stopped using federal prisons to house detainees, according to NPR. Jordan is worried that something similar could happen at the recently opened annex in Aurora. “We are concerned that the facilities are unprepared for this influx [of new detainees], which could result in really horrifying conditions for people that have to sit in these wings while they get up and running.” Jordan says it is unclear whether the facility will add staff to manage the additional detainees.” Click here to read the whole...

Frederick Couple Files Suit Challenging Developer’s Refusal to Accommodate Wheelchair in Unbuilt Home Plan

Family alleges refusal violated the Fair Housing Act. DENVER, August 6, 2018 – Nina and Robert Lindstrom had been planning for years to move from Alabama to Colorado to be closer to Nina’s daughter and their grandchildren. While preparing for the move, however, Nina Lindstrom fell and injured her spine. She now cannot walk and uses a power wheelchair for mobility. After the accident and months of intense rehabilitation, the Lindstroms were finally able to move to Colorado. Their house hunting process led them to the Autumn Valley Ranch community in Dacono developed by Century Communities, Inc. (“CCI”). Autumn Valley Ranch was ideal both because it was near family and because construction on the homes had not yet commenced, giving the Lindstroms — or so they thought — the opportunity to adjust the floorplan to be accessible to Ms. Lindstrom. When they initially met with a CCI sales representative and explained the modest adjustments they’d need — wider doors; level entrances — he appeared willing to implement the requested changes. (Though not obligated to do so, the Lindstroms offered to pay any difference in construction costs.) The following day, however, the CCI representative informed the Lindstroms’ Realtor that he had checked with CCI’s Vice President of Construction and Division President, and CCI would not be willing to make any accommodations in the floorplan. To be clear, at the point when CCI refused to make the Lindstroms’ accommodations, the “home” consisted of a patch of dirt and some drawings. The Lindstroms continued their home search, eventually purchasing an existing house that required extensive renovations before Ms. Lindstrom could use it,...

CREEC and other Civil Rights Groups Sue President Trump and ICE for Jailing Immigrants in Inhumane, Unconstitutional Conditions in Federal Prison

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE August 1, 2018 CONTACT: ACLU Media, 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org Margot Mendelson, Prison Law Office, 510-280-2621, mmendelson@prisonlaw.com Tim Fox, Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, 303-916-8794, tfox@creeclaw.org LOS ANGELES — The American Civil Liberties Union, Prison Law Office, and Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center filed a lawsuit today against President Trump and Immigration and Customs Enforcement for violating the constitutional rights of immigrants detained at FCI Victorville, a federal prison in Victorville, California. In early June, ICE began transferring immigrants from ICE and Customs and Border Protection facilities to prisons operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), through an agreement that sanctions the detention of 1,600 people in BOP facilities in Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, and Texas. Many of those imprisoned are asylum seekers. Some have been separated from their children. “Like the Trump administration’s family separation and zero tolerance policies, these detention transfers were done hastily and with no regard for the lives of the people who are detained,” said Victoria Lopez, senior staff attorney at the ACLU National Prison Project. “Confining immigrants in these conditions is unconscionable and unconstitutional. We will do everything in our power to make sure these men have adequate food and medical care, and are able to freely exercise their faiths.” Security and health care staff at the prison have protested that it is ill-equipped to handle this influx of detainees. Several housing units at the prison that were previously closed due to understaffing reopened in June for the purpose of detaining immigrants, and staffing remains deficient. Detained immigrants describe conditions at the prison as dangerous and chaotic. Attorneys on...