Ep 41: Deaf in Prison

Interview by Alice Wong

Today’s episode is about is about D/deaf people in prison. My guests are Claudia Center and TL Lewis. Both Claudia and TL will talk about a case filed by the ACLU on June 20, 2018, on behalf of 14 D/deaf and hard-of-hearing inmates in Coen v. Georgia Department of CorrectionsThe suit says Georgia is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and the U.S. Constitution’s protections against cruel and unusual punishment because they are denied communication access. TL and Claudia will discuss their role in this case and the major issues facing incarcerated D/deaf and hard-of-hearing people in Georgia and nationally.


[Google doc]     [PDF]

Related Links

ACLU. (June 20, 2018). ACLU & NAD Seek Class Action on Behalf of Deaf Prisoners in Georgia Denied Communication Access.

Andrews, Avital. (April 15, 2018). The 30 Top Thinkers Under 30: The Activist Attorney Working to Promote Justice for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Pacific Standard.

Coen v. Georgia Department of Corrections. (June 20, 2018). 

HEARD – Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf Communities

Ludwig, Mike. (August 22, 2016). No Way to Call Home: Incarcerated Deaf People Are Locked in a Prison Inside a Prison. TruthOut.org

Novic, Sara. (June 21, 2018). Deaf prisoners are trapped in frightening isolation.CNN.

Woody, Jeremy and Christie Thompson. (October 18, 2018). The Isolation of Being Deaf in Prison. The Marshall Project.

Growing Up Poor Physically Changes The Structure Of A Child’s Brain

by Madison Dapcevich

A long-term analysis of hundreds of adolescent brains suggests that the socioeconomic status (SES) of a child’s family may play a role in the development of key brain areas responsible for learning, language, and emotional development.

To study the effects between a parent’s income and education levels and their child’s cognitive development, researchers from the National Institute of Mental Health scanned the brains of more than 600 individuals over the course of their lives between the ages of five and 25. They then compared these neuroimages against data on their parents’ education and occupation, as well as each participants’ IQ.

When it comes to the relationship between brain anatomy and SES, little changes from childhood to early adulthood. This led researchers to believe that preschool life is a pivotal time in which associations between socioeconomic status and brain organization first begins to develop. SES was shown to be positively associated with total grey matter volume and less consistently with white matter volume. It was also associated with volume levels in the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with personality development, and the emotion-regulating hippocampus.

What We Learned From a Year of Americans ‘Risking It’ Without Insurance

By John Tozzi

Their stories from the trenches reveal a broken health insurance system that is increasingly out of reach.

For many Americans, 2018 was the year that health care reached a breaking point.

Insurance was still too expensive to buy. It didn’t cover nearly enough. And as the country’s politics festered, the government once again failed to solve the insurance conundrum, even as a large majority of Americans who flocked to voting booths said health care was their top concern.

My colleagues and I spent much of this year talking to people who had weighed the health benefits against the financial burden of purchasing insurance. Most decided to risk it, betting that going without made more sense than paying for coverage.

Here’s how the government shutdown hurts disaster recovery

By Justine Calma

We don’t yet know if 2019 will be a letdown, but it will likely start with a shutdown.

Seven days in, the budget gridlock between Congress and the President over federal funding for his proposed border wall remains at a standstill. The House and Senate adjourned Thursday without a budget deal, meaning the partial government shutdown, which affects about a quarter of the federal government, will continue until at least Monday.

For President Trump, that means no Mar-A-Lago trip for New Year’s. For around 800,000 federal workers, that’s no paycheck for the foreseeable future.

Because of the current shutdown, The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood insurance Program has stopped issuing new flood insurance policies and will not renew existing policies that lapse. “FEMA’s decision will cause upheaval for home buyers and sellers across the country,” Louisiana Senator John Kennedy said in a statement.

Frustrated by the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program? These tools can help

by Annie Nova

Most people pursuing public service loan forgiveness discover at some point that they don’t qualify, for one technical reason or another.

That may be because their loan type is ineligible or they’re not in the right repayment plan.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program was signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007 and allows not-for-profit and government employees to have their federal student loans erased after 10 years of on-time payments.

Just 206 applicants for the debt relief have been approved, according to recent Education Department data. More than 40,000 have applied.

What’s more, about 25 percent of American workers are in public service and could, in theory, be eligible. In practice, student loan servicers are delaying and denying borrowers access to the forgiveness program, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

As a result, you shouldn’t rely just on your lender for information on the program, advocates say. Here are some other helpful and reliable resources.

Daily Aspirin May Reduce COPD Exacerbations

by Salynn Boyles, Contributing Writer

Taking a daily aspirin was linked to reduced COPD exacerbations, less shortness of breath, and better quality of life, an analysis of the ongoing SPIROMICS study found.

At 3 years follow-up, aspirin users were less likely to have acute COPD exacerbations (adjusted incidence rate ratio [IRR] 0.78, 95% CI 0.65-0.94) compared with non-users, with a similar effect seen for moderate acute COPD exacerbations (IRR 0.86, 95% CI 0.63-1.18), according to Ashraf Fawzy, MD, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, and colleagues.

Celebrating remarkable Stella Young — writer, comedian and advocate for people with disabilities

from ABC Life / By Eliza Hull

Stella Young passed away on December 6, 2014, aged 32.

A writer, comedian and advocate, she gave voice to issues relevant to the many Australians living with disability. Stella wrote for ABC for a number of years and was editor of the disability news and opinion website Ramp Up.

This week marks both the International Day of People with Disability and four years since her passing.

With the blessing of her family, ABC Life is republishing a selection of her work, and has asked Eliza Hull, creator of We’ve Got This to introduce Stella and share her memories of a remarkable woman:

Turned down for federal disability payments, thousands die waiting for appeals to be heard

by Mark Johnson

It isn’t easy to be patient when you can’t work and you’re in pain, as Christine Morgan knows all too well.

Her chronic pain comes from fibromyalgia. Morgan, 60, also has spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spaces within the spine that pinches the nerves, most often in the lower back and neck. To top it off, she is diabetic, has kidney disease, high blood pressure and depression.

Yet Morgan has been turned down for Social Security Disability Insurance –  twice. “They sent me a letter that said I wasn’t disabled,” she said.

Morgan appealed her most recent denial in August 2017. Her appeal wasn’t heard until more than a year later, on Nov. 7, and she still hasn’t received a ruling. She is among more than 800,000 Americans waiting for their appeals to be decided. Each year thousands die waiting for an answer.

In fiscal year 2016, 8,699 Americans died on the disability insurance waiting list. That number rose to 10,002 in 2017.

My editorial comments:  In the early ’80s, the Reagen administration dumped 60,000 people off SSI in Michigan, and a group of activists (maybe 150) trained to represent these individuals in appeals hearings. I was working at MPAS at the time and did maybe a dozen hearings for persons with DD over a two year period. I won them all eventually, not because I was a great advocate, but because the denials were clearly and obviously done for spite. 

Because MPAS was representing a lot of people in these appeals hearings,  we ordered the Policy Manual from SSA (called the POMS) so that it would be easier to prepare for hearings and other SSI advocacy activities. It was a paper version in binders and occupied two entire bookshelves that were 7 feet tall and 4 feet wide. We had to update 150 new pages a day. It was a true monument to bureaucracy. Now, the POMS is online.

Sometimes I would scan the index for interesting policies that might have some bearing on cases in which I was involved. I saw one that told local district SSA offices what to do if a person in the appeals process died before they received a decision. It was interesting because it was entirely focused on the public relations problem that might result if a story about such a situation got into local papers.

The reality today is much worse. Two-thirds of initial applications are denied even though half of these denials will be overturned during the appeals process. This is no accident. The system is deliberately set up to deny people that are eligible under SSA law through the use of local administrative procedures that are more restrictive than the law.

The SSI system is only accidentally providing benefits. It is currently designed to deny people benefits wherever it can without creating a political backlash. If district offices and assessment systems used procedures that more closely matched the actual law, the waiting times on appeals would be cut in half. Instead, the system puts various band-aids on the waiting list problem and demands more money that it knows it will never get. It does this because it views the waiting periods (up to 2 and a half years) as a device to discourage appellants or to outwait an appellants life. Death, as SSI has discovered, is a remarkably effective way to discourage appeals.

Abelism and brain injury Rant

From Reddit r/disability

The comments are informative as well….

So I have a frontal lobe abnormality. This makes me unable to conversate normally with other people. It also makes me more spaced out. When people ask me questions they get impatient because I don’t always answer right away. I also am confused easily. Since I can’t draw from my memory bank the same way other people can I am really unable to get in debates or discussions with people about different topics even though I’m interested in them.

Because I’m often times unable to draw from that memory bank. I don’t think that most people realize when you call someone a moron or stupid or an idiot online that it can be taken really personally because that person may have a disability that makes them this way. When people get impatient with me while interacting with me in real life, it makes me feel badly, but the thing is I have no control over it. I do not look disabled therefore people treat me just like anyone else however I am not like everyone else.

As far as I know this brain injury occurred when I was very young so I have always been like this. People have always thought that I was on drugs or that I was an airhead. I have been called flaky and ditzy more times than I can count. The thing is I’m not I’m really interested in a lot of very academic topics. I’m also really good at doing a lot of things that even average people cannot do. But I have so much trouble connecting with people because I literally feel like I have nothing in common with them and like I’m harboring the secret that my brain is not processing the information being given to me the way they think it is.

I wish people would think twice before being too hard on someone who is too slow to come up with an answer. Or being hard on someone because they don’t have good retort or argument in a discussion or debate. People like me aren’t stupid we’re different. If people were more patient and understanding and just gave people like me the time they would see that I’m not a dumbass.

I guess my point is that people should really just stop using the word stupid to describe other people. If I don’t explain myself in a way that other people understand it is because I am trying to translate what they’re saying into my own language in my head. It’s not really all that different from speaking a foreign language and using English as a second language. It takes me twice as long to comprehend the words coming in. I say um a lot , and like, and the reason I do this is because it is like a placeholder or a pause that allows for me to have time to come up with what I need to say. Yet I am constantly given a hard time for it.