For the deaf, imprisonment can be especially isolating and punitive. Inmates may literally have no one to talk to. As a result of a federal class action law suit, Illinois agreed to accommodate prisoners with hearing disabilities.

Among its terms, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) will begin screen for hearing loss, create a centralized database on inmates with hearing disabilities and provide a specialist to assess an inmate’s need for services. IDOC must keep a ready supply of hearing aid batteries. IDOC must also make certain technologies available, such as amplified telephones and a teletypewriter.

IDOC audio-visual media such as televisions and movies must have open and closed captioning. Hearing impaired inmates may choose headphones that prevent them from disturbing other inmates.

IDOC must adopt visual and tactile alert notifications. Such notices may be used to inform inmates of mealtime, visitors, medical appointments, evacuations and emergencies.

Handcuffs may be removed to allow a prisoner to communicate through American Sign Language. Hearing impaired prisoners must have equal job opportunities.

The settlement may be viewed at uplc.chicagoorg

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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