Equal and Effective Communication is Guaranteed by the ADA

CREEC and 17 other civil rights organizations file amicus brief supporting the right to effective communication The day after Christmas, 2013, Stanley Cropp was wrongfully arrested (based on his confused response to police) and taken to the Larimer County Jail. There it was determined he could be released on bond, but would have to sign the legal documents necessary to make that happen. Because he has Alzheimer’s, he did not understand the documents, so his wife, Catherine Cropp, asked to sit with him and explain them. Larimer County said no. Its policy was to require family members to meet with detainees in a “non-contact” booth, separated by a glass partition, and requiring the conversation to take place through a telephone. Mrs. Cropp explained that, based on her experience with Mr. Cropp’s condition, this would not permit him to understand what he needed to sign. The County was adamant: absolutely no accommodation would be made for Mr. Cropp’s disability. This occurred despite the fact that the County knew Mr. Cropp could not understand its complex legal paperwork without assistance, and despite the fact that the County regularly permitted attorneys to meet directly with detainees, no glass partition required. The Cropps challenged Larimer County’s refusal under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) which requires public entities such as Larimer County to provide effective communication with disabled people and – crucially – to defer to the requests of such individuals concerning the mode of communication. The Cropps lost before the district court, and that decision was affirmed by the Tenth Circuit last month in a 2-1 decision. The majority incorrectly deferred to the...

Investigation of Communication Problems in Tennessee Prisons

The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) and Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) are currently investigating communication barriers for deaf inmates in Tennessee prisons. This includes prisons operated by the Tennessee Department of Correction (TDOC) and by CoreCivic. If you are a deaf inmate in a Tennessee prison and are having communication problems OR know a deaf inmate in a Tennessee prison who is having communication problems, please contact DRT by phone at 1-800-342-1660 or by email at GetHelp@DisabilityRightsTN.org. Examples of communication problems include: No sign language interpreter for communications like: medical appointments classes classification STRONG-R Using other inmates as “interpreters” Grievance information only in written English No videophones Greater access to telephones than videophones No visual fire and emergency alarms No closed captions on TVs These are only examples. This is not a complete list of communication problems that may be occurring. While the current investigation is focused on Tennessee, if you are experiencing these issues in prisons outside of TN or know others who are, please contact CREEC by phone at 303.757.7901 or info@creeclaw.org. Please post the attached notice in a public space and please share this information with deaf inmates and their friends or family members. PDF Version of Public Notice   PDF Version of Public...

Full and Equal Enjoyment for Sports and Music Fans

Client spotlight:  Kirstin Kurlander Garcia Deaf lacrosse fan and CREEC client, Kirstin Kurlander Garcia has been instrumental in bringing open captioning to both the Pepsi Center and Broncos Stadium. Using CREEC’s Fast Advocacy for Communication program, she was also recently able to secure an interpreter for the Violent Femmes concert at Planet Bluegrass. “Our family enjoys professional lacrosse games at both the Pepsi Center and Broncos Stadium, but I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the events without access to the announcements – players, penalties, and all the other things that entertain us between plays,” Kirstin explained. She approached CREEC about the Pepsi Center; we approached the Pepsi Center to discuss the issue, but ultimately resolved the case in Kirstin’s favor through class action litigation. Soon thereafter, Kirstin and CREEC reached out to Broncos Stadium and were able to work with the folks there – without need for litigation – to ensure open captioning. As a result of the collaboration between Kirstin and CREEC’s Accessibility Project, deaf and hard of hearing lacrosse fans – and hockey, basketball, and football fans – can all enjoy access to the same public address content as hearing fans. Also an avid music fan, Kirstin was interested in attending a summer 2019 Violent Femmes concert at Planet Bluegrass. Long before the concert date, Kirstin reached out to Planet Bluegrass to request a sign language interpreter. The venue owners responded with a common misconception:  that it’s up to the individual bands to provide interpreters. In fact, both owners and operators – venues and performers, in this case – are responsible for ensuring effective communication for deaf...

Spreading the Word: Deaf Awareness Day at the Denver Zoo and the DeafNation Expo in Nashville, TN

CREEC recently had the privilege of joining the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community at two marquee events:  Deaf Awareness Day at the Denver Zoo in Colorado and the DeafNation Expo in Nashville, TN. All together more than 2,400 people attended these two signature events. Deaf Awareness Day at the Denver Zoo – September 22, 2019 Kris Shipley of Sprint Accessibility remarked about this year’s day at the Zoo, “Relay Colorado and Sprint Accessibility sponsored and hosted Deaf Awareness Day at the Denver Zoo on September 22, 2019 to support Deaf Awareness Month. It was a smashing hit! There were over 1,000 attendees including all ages of deaf, hard of hearing and hearing guests from the Denver metro area, Colorado Springs and northern Colorado. This was a good way to bring the community together and celebrate Deaf Awareness Month.” Co-Executive Director Amy Robertson represented CREEC at Deaf Awareness Day at the Denver Zoo and reported, “It was great to see old friends and meet new people in the Deaf community.  It also gave us a chance to introduce our Fast Advocacy for Communication (FAC) program, which folks seemed interested in.”  CREEC looks forward to participating in future Deaf Awareness Days. DeafNation Expo Nashville, TN – October 12, 2019 Director of CREEC’s Accessibility Project, Martie Lafferty joined 74 vendors and more than 1,400 participants at Nashville’s DeafNation Expo on Saturday October 12.  Both vendors and participants came from multiple states including TN, KY, IN, GA, NC, AL, and MS.  Martie and a sign language interpreter staffed CREEC’s booth where many participants stopped by to talk and pick up flyers, magnets,...

Press Release: Colorado Department of Corrections Ordered to Provide Videophones to Deaf Prisoners.

For Immediate Release Thursday, September 19, 2019   COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS ORDERED TO PROVIDE VIDEOPHONES TO DEAF PRISONERS Ruling comes three years after prisoner-initiated lawsuit filed. DENVER — A Denver federal court yesterday ordered the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) to provide videophones for Deaf prisoners.  This order ensures that Deaf prisoners will be able to communicate with their family and friends in sign language. The order comes after three years of litigation initiated pro se by lead plaintiff Bionca Rogers. Ms. Rogers, a prisoner in the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility (DWCF), can hear, but her mother is Deaf. Before Ms. Rogers was incarcerated, she and her mother communicated by videophone – the now-widespread technology providing telecommunications for deaf people who communicate in sign language. In late 2015, after arriving at DWCF, Ms. Rogers asked to contact her mother – guardian of her two young children – by videophone.  CDOC refused, and told Ms. Rogers that she would have to use the teletypewriter, or TTY, 60-year-old technology that requires both parties to have TTY machines, and to type back and forth to each other. Since her mother – like most Deaf people – did not own a TTY, this required a three-step relay process:  Ms. Rogers typed into the TTY; a TTY relay operator spoke her words to a video relay operator; who then interpreted them into ASL.  When Ms. Rogers’s mother responded, the three-step process was repeated in reverse. Because this is a very ineffective way of communicating – in no way equivalent to hearing prisoners speaking by phone with hearing friends and family – Ms. Rogers...

Press Release: Broncos Stadium at Mile High Expands Services for Deaf & Hard of Hearing Fans with Open Captioning Service

For Immediate Release Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019 Denver Broncos Football Club: Seth Medvin Seth.Medvin@broncos.nfl.net/720-391-4033 cell CREEC: Amy Robertson 303-917-1870 BRONCOS STADIUM AT MILE HIGH EXPANDS SERVICES FOR DEAF & HARD OF HEARING FANS WITH OPEN CAPTIONING SERVICE Measures result from collaboration with deaf patron and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center DENVER — Stadium Management Company (SMC), the Metropolitan Football Stadium District (MFSD) and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) announced on Thursday that Broncos Stadium at Mile High will expand its services for deaf & hard of hearing fans by providing open captioning on its LED ribbon boards. Fully operational for stadium events, the open captioning service will be displayed on three LED boards at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. Two boards are located on the southeast and southwest side adjacent to the Ring of Fame nameplates and one is on the northwest corner of the stadium. Broncos Stadium at Mile High already provides closed captioning services for fans’ mobile devices and on assistive listening devices available for checkout from guest relations staff. In conjunction with CREEC and Kirstin Kurlander Garcia, a deaf sports fan and stadium patron, the stadium will now caption information spoken over the public address system on the LED boards. The open captioning service will be used at Broncos home games, Denver Outlaws Major League Lacrosse games and other major stadium events (international soccer games, AMA Supercross, etc.). For more information about how the Broncos support and service deaf & hard of hearing fans, please visit www.broncosstadiumatmilehigh.com/stadium-information/guest-information. ABOUT CREEC: The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) is a nonprofit membership...