Incarcerated People With Disabilities

Incarcerated People With Disabilities. HEARD, with the assistance of TDI’s legal representation, filed a Reply Comment to the Federal Communications Commission, about the inequitable access to communication currently being provided to incarcerated people with disabilities.

We commented in a previous FCC filing about the Commission’s Fifth FNPRM that the Incarcerated people with disabilities are routinely denied equitable access to communication in carceral facilities.

We confirmed that the Commission does have the authority to justify the civil and human rights of incarcerated people with disabilities. This authority allows them to amend and enforce its rules to ensure equitable access for inmate calling service providers (ICS). The ICS providers facilitate access to modern forms of telecommunications relay service (TRS) and direct video and text communications services. To be exact, the Commission has that authority due to Section 225 and Section 276 of the Communications Act. Along with the supporting clauses from Sections 225 and 271 of the Act.

Also, we discovered from the records of the decades of advocacy and recent testimonials from formerly incarcerated people with disabilities that access to TRS and efficient forms of communication brings a wide range of critical benefits. These benefits include

  1. Reduced reincarceration after release,
  2. Better planning for life after release,
  3. Decreased feelings of isolation,
  4. Better language retention.

Poor Treatment for Incarcerated People with Disabilities

Still, we had evidence that the incarcerated people with disabilities experienced poor treatment such as not receiving basic necessities and inequitable communication access. Thus, we believe that the registration requirements and reporting requirements within carceral facilities should be amended to address the current carceral environments and to include all accessible communication for full transparency.

We also emphasized that the carceral facilities should have modern TRS communication services to meet the needs and effective communication among the incarcerated people with disabilities and their relatives, lawyers, and important personnel.

We recognized due to the records that the costs from the Commission implementing these proposed rules are minimal compared to the benefits, especially ICS providers. Nonetheless, the ICS providers will not provide modern TRS services for incarcerated people with disabilities without Commission’s action. In addition, the records confirmed that the Commission should not charge for any form of TRS calls, direct video communication, or RTT.

Next Steps for Incarcerated People With Disabilities

For more information about TDI’s filing addressing Accessibility Coalition on Commission’s Fifth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, visit the filing and full list of signatories at the following link::

Incarcerated People With Disabilities


WC 12-375 — Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services

Special Thanks to:



TDI. Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf. American Deafness and Rehabilitation Association (ADARA). Association of Late Deafened Adults (ALDA). California Coalition of Agencies Serving the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (CCASDHH). Cerebral Palsy and Deaf Organization (CPADO). Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD). Conference of Educational Administrators of Schools and Programs for the Deaf (CEASD). CueSign. Deaf Seniors of America (DSA). Global Alliance of Speech-to-Text Captioning. HEARD. Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). Helen Keller National Center for DeafBlind Youths and Adults (HKNC).

National Association of State Agencies of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (NASADHH), National Association of the Deaf (NAD), National Cued Speech Association (NCSA), National Disability Rights Network (NDRN), National Hispanic Latino Association of the Deaf (NHLAD), Northern Virginia Resource Center (NVRC), Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID), Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Technology for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH-RERC), Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Universal Interface & Information Technology Access (IT-RERC).

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