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Episode Info:

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 Corrections. The 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.


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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.

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.

About Photo of Claudia Center, a white woman with wavy shoulder-length brown hair. She is wearing glasses and a heather gray cardigan with a purple t-shirt underneath. She is smiling at the camera.

Claudia Center

I grew up in New Hampshire, went to Wesleyan University for college, then moved to California. I was a paralegal for a big law firm and then I went to Berkeley Law (aka Boalt Hall). After law school I worked for NARAL in D.C., starting as a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellow. Then I worked for the Employment Law Center (now Legal Aid at Work) for many years before joining the ACLU’s Disability Rights Program. Ask me your questions about the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, disability rights, disabled people, and the disability community. I was a foster parent to two teenagers who are now my adult children. I have three older sisters; we all look alike. I’ve been taking Spanish classes diligently for four years (so far reaching the proficiency of your average Anglo at the end of their first year of high school Spanish). I sing in an a cappella choir, Scales of the City, and I make my friends attend our concert once a year. (Check out our YouTube channel!) I’m an advanced FBer and watcher of television. I live with two cats and one adult child. I’m in a long-term love-hate relationship with San Francisco. My best friend is my iPhone. Twitter: @Claudia_SF

Image of a young genderfluid black person of African descent (TL) wearing a bright blue collared shirt while seated at a desk in a hallway with their hands folded under their chin and elbows leaning against the tabletop. There are windows & doors in the background.

Recognized as a White House Champion of Change and one of Pacific Standard Magazine’s Top 30 Thinkers Under 30, Talila A. Lewis is a Community Lawyer who has been engaged in innovative and intersectional anti-violence, decarceration & prison abolition work for over a decade. Talila’s work highlights and addresses the nexus between race, class, disability and structural inequity—focusing in particular, on people with multiply marginalized identities. Talila co-founded & serves as the volunteer director of Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of Deaf Communities (HEARD), a volunteer-dependent nonprofit organization which created and maintains the only national database of Deaf, DeafBlind, DeafDisabled and Hard of Hearing imprisoned people. Talila also serves as a consultant on radical education and workplace inclusion; an expert on cases involving disabled people; and previously served as the Givelber Public Interest Lecturer at Northeastern University School of Law and a visiting professor at Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Talila is a founding member of the Harriet Tubman Collective and co-creator of the Disability Solidarity praxis. A recent graduate of American University Washington College of Law, Talila has received awards from numerous universities, the American Bar Association, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, the American Association for People with Disabilities, National Black Deaf Advocates, and the Nation Institute, among others. Talila is the recipient of the 2018 Roddenberry Fellowship and the 2018 Atlantic Fellowship for Racial Equity. Twitter: @talilalewis


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Cheryl Green, Audio Producer and Text Transcriber

Alice Wong, Writer, Producer, Interviewer

Lateef McLeod, Introduction

Mike Mort, Artwork

Theme Music (used with permission of artist)

Song: “Dance Off”

Artist: Wheelchair Sports Camp


CGI Snake” by Chris Zabriskie. (Source: Licensed under a Attribution License.)

Ice Climb” by Podington Bear. (Source: Licensed under a  Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 International License.)

Transitioning” and “Somber Heart” by Lee Rosevere. (Source: Licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial License.)


“VOCODER countdown” by Jack_Master. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons 0 License.

8 Bit Beeping Computer Sounds” by sheepfilms. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons 0 License.

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