A Narrow but Significant Victory for the Deaf in Jail

Even in Jail, the Deaf have rights.  One of those rights is to know what is going on.  Another right is to receive medication even if you happen to be asleep.  When you are Deaf and and in Jail, and the only notification system in the Jail is the intercom, you don’t know when it is recreation time, nor do you hear them calling your name to get your necessary medication.

Roggendorf Law brought suit against Clark County, Washington for the conditions at the county jail in Vancouver.  The litigation is ongoing, but just today we received an opinion that granted summary judgment to the plaintiffs (that is, the court has decided as a matter of law that the plaintiffs win) on the narrow issue of whether the Jail can do nothing and expect Deaf inmates to just figure it out.

The court denied summary judgment—meaning that the jury has to decide—whether my clients are owed money and how much they are owed for these violations of their rights, as well as whether other problems we have alleged were in fact violations of their rights under the Americans with Disability Act.  But the court itself has ruled that no matter what else, the Clark County Jail has to start providing some type of notification that is accessible to Deaf and hard of hearing people.

64. Order on Plaintiffs’ Sum J