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Our recent volunteer efforts focus on youth
education, engagement & empowerment!

Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD)


  • In honor of International Week of the Deaf, D.C. United honored HEARD as "Nonprofit of the Match."  We organized this event to give our volunteers time to take their minds off of the mentally, physically and emotionally draining work that they do daily.  Deaf returned citizen Jason "JT" Tozier signed the National Anthem and the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, Inc., showed up with friends and family in a humbling act of solidarity.  We were honored by the outpouring of support shown by hearing and deaf communities alike.

Read more about Heard's recent achievements.





#DeafInPrison Campaign updates & information on upcoming events in the Deaf Access to Justice Movement.

De'VIA Deaf ARTActivists pose in front of the gates of Wende Correctional Instition in NY after providing an artist workshop at Wende Correctional Institution to kick of #DeafInPrison Campaign.
Packed house at HEARD's #DeafInPrison Screening Busboys and Poets ASL Poetry & Sign Songs, Washington, DC. Thanks to Jason "JT" Tozier for serving as HEARD spokesperson. "Powerful night!" say all present #ARTActivism #CommunityResponsibility 120 people! More photos to follow . . .   [Image Desc: Long room one piece of artwork covering the far wall. Many many people sit close together in a room looking toward big screen with "Deaf In Prison" playing]

#DeafInPrison Campaign Makes Waves

The Campaign has been a huge success thus far. The documentary received nearly 26,000 online views in just three days, and more than 600 people attended live viewings in California, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, Oklahoma, and Washington, D.C.

Please take a few seconds to sign & share our petition to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting national standards for inclusion of and protection for deaf incarcerated people. The ASL version of the petition can be viewed here. 


Founder Talila "TL" Lewis in Florida with Mary Ellen, HEARD Advocate for our second eldest #DeafInPrison named Bud (90 years old) #Deaf #Nonagenarian #Prison #ASL  [Image Description: TL w black rimmed glasses and bright purple shirt and Mary Ellen w light rose rimmed glasses and a light blue shirt stand in front of red pier in St. Augustine, Florida. River, trees, grass, sidewalk in the background.] Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center Photo from today's viewing of #DeafInPrison. #Colorado #Advocates #Allies

Humble thanks to Facundo Element for their support of this Campaign and to the following organizations who hosted screenings:

ASL Poetry & Sign Songs (sponsored by HEARD)
Baird Farrelly Criminal Defense, PLLC
Civil Rights Education & Enforcement Center
Department of ASL-English Interpretation at Columbia College Chicago
Deaf Communication by Innovation
Deaf Counseling, Advocacy & Referral Agency
Facundo Element
Iglesia Martell Law Firm
Pinellas Public Library Cooperative's Deaf Literacy Center

Want more informaiton on deaf prisoners?  Take a look at HEARD's #DeafInPrison Fact Sheet in English or ASL.

Ready to take action?

Inspiration & ideas below . . .

Gallaudet University Highlights Intern Corinna Hill

Gallaudet University wrote this articlehighlighting our former intern Corinna Hill & our work to advance Deaf Access to Justice.

The article focuses on Corinna's work with HEARD last semester, including organizing a community engagement campaign that identified legal needs of D.C.'s Deaf Community; planning and leading the Alternative Spring Break trip for ten Cornell University students, and testifying at the Maryland House of Delegates in support of the Deaf Culture Digital Library.

Corina is quoted as saying, "I grew up thinking that the prison system was fair, and now I realize it has flaws. . . . Innocent deaf Americans are sitting in prison." Read More>>

Support the Deaf Prisoner Phone Justice Campaign

Right now, only six prisons across the nation have videophones. Even fewer have other features that would make telecommunications universally accessible for Deaf*/CODA/Speech Challenged persons.

The Federal Communications Commission has again invited HEARD's founder to speak about issues important to these populations at its July 9th Workshop on Further Reform of Inmate Calling Services, from 9am-4:30pm (EST). The workshop is free and open to the public, & will be live streamed for those who can not attend in person. Please show support of equal access to telecommunications for all prisoners and their families by attending or sending in deaf/disability-related questions to each panel.

For more information on HEARD's Deaf Prisoner Phone Justice Campaign, view HEARD's timeline here.  For more information on this workshop, please visit the FCC's event page here.

Sign our DOJ Petition


Gallaudet Website
Article Source

Several Gallaudet University students are working to improve the American justice system for the deaf by interning with Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf (HEARD), a D.C.-based nonprofit organization.

Corinna Hill
Gallaudet Student - Corinna Hill '14

HEARD recently was featured in two episodes of Al Jazeera America series "America Tonight." "Deaf In Prison" focused on the plight of deaf and hard of hearing inmates in prisons throughout the United States, and HEARD kicked off a #DeafinPrison social media campaign during which it promoted the Al Jazeera episodes on YouTube.

Corinna Hill, '14, is one of the Gallaudet students who helped HEARD with its outreach efforts. "I grew up thinking that the prison system was fair, and now I realize it has flaws," said Hill, a Boonsboro, Md., native who majored in history. "Innocent deaf Americans are sitting in prison."

HEARD is a volunteer-run organization founded by American University law student Talila Lewis. After a semester-long externship with the D.C. Public Defense Service, Lewis set a mission: to improve communication accessibility for deaf prisoners and fight for those who have been wrongfully convicted.

"Only five prisons in the U.S. have videophones - Virginia, Vermont, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Maine," Lewis said.

There also are numerous cases of allegedly innocent deaf Americans who have been imprisoned for years, unable to tell their story and without access to interpreters or even a TTY.

Read More . . .

HEARD's next public meeting is next Thursday, September 12th @ 6:30pm, in Gallaudet University's Library Room B112.  

We will discuss fall initiatives and host a panel of deaf returned citizens.

Inside this Edition of HEARD's Quarterly Newsletter:

  • HEARD's Deaf Prisoner Phone Justice Campaign Success!!!
  • HEARD Board Members Educate and Empower Commissioners at the Federal Communication Commissions, Employees at the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Lawyers, Students & Others. . .
  • A tribute to Dr. McCay Vernon, a pioneer in the field of deaf education & former HEARD board member.
  • And much more . . .

The PDF of HEARD's Quarterly Newsletter can be found here.

Peace & Progress,

HEARD Board of Directors

P.O. Box 1160

Washington, D.C. 20013

202.455.8076 voice
202.436.9278 VP



Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030;; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services.