Justice for All

Made possible by IEEE-USA funding from member dues.

Globally, people with Hearing Loss and Deafness experience disparate treatment and a limited ability to participate in many settings including Courts, Government Offices, Medical Facilities, Schools, Workplaces, etc.. Solutions are expensive, are not interoperable with most communication technologies, and is often not satisfactory to overcome hearing related obstacles. Accommodation technology is developed in silos, is complicated with proprietary interfaces, and does not reflect mainstream communication experiences.

Additional problems include, for example, in the US, Federal Courts are not required to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA); they have regulations, however, accessibility is at the discretion of the Judge, and is subject to budgetary constraints and whatever an individual Judge considers to be a ‘reasonable accommodation.’

IEEE Member and Non Member HAC Humanitarian Activities Volunteers.

Team Identified a Problem: Costs of accommodating those with hearing loss or deafness during the process are often too onerous and law enforcement, government offices, education facilities, and Judges can decide not to provide assistance due to cost.

Team Solution: Therefore, our Development Efforts feature an experienced Team carving out solutions using mainstream communications technologies including WiFi, Mobile Phones, etc., and training others in Open Source, low cost development for Sustainability and distribution even to those with limited resources.

In this project, we will learn more about the Justice System. We will observe and conduct recordings and measurements with a Mock Trial Team from Nyack New York to create a Model Accessibility System incorporating a cloud connected conference bridge and other features for attorneys, clients, staff, and witnesses to interact, and prepare for court appearances, for example, in a process called ‘Woodshedding’.

Background:

  • Woodshedding a witness, preparing a witness for trial by reviewing his/her testimony shortly before trial, comes from a practice in Westchester County. Back in the early 1900s, there was no space in the White Plains, NY courthouse to meet with witnesses. Lawyers would take their witnesses to the woodshed adjacent to the courthouse to prep them, hence "woodshedding" a witness. Even today it's hard to find space in most courthouses to meet with clients or to conference with opposing counsel and many meetings are conducted in crowded, noisy hallways or alcoves. - Dr Duncan Rogers Lee, II Esquire

We will investigate, publish, and share information with other agencies, courts, and offices to improve access for those with hearing loss and deafness using mainstream technologies including Mobile Phones, WiFi, Bluetooth, the Cloud, etc. The team will use the lessons learned to advocate with IEEE Standards bodies to improve technology standards to address the need for all mainstream technologies to interact with Accessible Communications devices so that Reasonable Accommodations may be more affordable, more easily achieved universally, and more compatible with mainstream technologies.

Separate is not equal.

The team will engage advisors, courthouse staff, members of the Bar, students, and the general public to develop an understanding of needs. Needs may include: location/directions, captioning, information apps, improved person to person communication and an ability to localize/identify speakers. We will share research findings online, at presentations with other stakeholders, organizations, and agencies. Activities began in September 2018.


On 17 November 2018 the Nyack Mock Trial Team met in Spring Valley Courthouse with the Honorable Judge David Fried presiding.

A number of auditions, recording, meetings, and technical sessions have taken place throughout 2018 and in early 2019.

In May - June 2019 the Nyack Mock Trial Team will meet in a competition and the Banquet will be held. IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee will provide support for the activity which will include: presentation on Advancing Technology for Humanity, 'Justice for All,' a Trivia Contest, an Essay Contest for the Students/Participants, a Storytelling Video Booth, a 'Justice for All' Photo Booth, presentations by invited Speakers, Networking and a Celebratory Meal.


ANNOUNCING THE JUSTICE FOR ALL STORYTELLING CONTEST - Celebration at the Team Dinner - 4 June 2019

Announcing the Justice for All Storytelling Contest -- Can be a Video, Photographs, Poster, Art Work, Music, Essay, Blog Post, Interview, Documentary, Storytelling, etc.

Prepare a brief expression of how you envision potential to change the world to achieve Justice for All in 2 minute video, poster, 1000 word abstract, photos, sketch, diagram, blog entry, or document of 1) a story, person, legal case, or experience that inspires you to improve access to the Justice System; or 2) a suggestion, innovation, or solution in technology or process to improve communication or reduce disparity in the Justice System; 3) explain how a Mock Trial case involving a person with hearing loss (or mobility issue, vision loss, or another example you can think of), can help others (Mock Trial Team members, Bar Association members, technology designers, policy makers, stakeholders, community, or ...) to understand important needs of individuals (for example as United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 Quality Education, 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, 10 Reduced Inequalities, or 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions).

For more information please contact: Kit August kit@ieee.org or Margaret J Lyons mlyons6@optonline.net

Please Submit Entries to kit@ieee.org before midnight on 30 May 2019.


Background for the 'Justice for All' Storytelling Contest:


Our 'Justice for All' Humanitarian Activities Committee Event aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: 4 Quality Education, 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, 10 Reduced Inequalities (for example, hearing loss), and 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions. We are focusing on increasing Communication Strategies and Access: if people have hearing loss or deafness, they are not able to communicate effectively and miss important Education opportunities. People with hearing loss might not be fully able to assist in their own defense in a Justice system. They may not fully hear and understand what is going on in Court, thereby risking Justice for All.

To increase Effective Communication, Accommodation is needed. However, expensive accommodation infrastructure is not ubiquitous, it’s cumbersome, requires planning, and often fails to meet the needs of people with hearing loss. Mainstream communications like Mobile Phones, WiFi, Internet, etc. are low cost, incorporate open source development platforms where many people from the community can create Sustainable solutions that resolve a variety of issues, address focused communities of interest, and offer possibilities that didn’t exist before.

Now, stakeholders and members of the communities in need can develop or contribute to the design and development of solutions that will be more helpful. There are free open source hearing aid algorithms available through excellent research organizations including Fraunhofer, and these new options are more flexible for sustainability and low cost distribution, especially for people with limited resources. We can leverage such solutions with cloud connected architecture and distribution to improve communication in schools, offices, healthcare settings, courts, government offices to promote SDG 4 Quality Education, SDG 5 Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls, SDG 10 Reduce Inequities for People With Disabling Hearing Loss and Deafness, and to increase likelihood for SDG 16 Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

From the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report on Disabilities Among Prison and Jail Inmates, 2011-2012:

"...disability types: hearing, vision, cognitive, ambulatory, self-care, and independent living.„

An estimated 32% of prisoners and 40% of jail inmates reported having at least one disability.„

Prisoners were nearly 3 times more likely and jail inmates were more than 4 times more likely than the general population to report having at least one disability."

Communications issues can lead to less Quality Education, fewer opportunities in the Economy, and can increase consequences of poverty including poor health and the impact of crime, which is multi-faceted. Even in Court, where people should be heard, Costs can be Onerous for all the interactions among citizens, attorneys, witnesses, family, experts, government, Judges, etc. Many people just give up and plead to some crime or other (90% defendants take a plea rather than going to trial), resulting in going to jail or prison, where things will get worse.

When people have hearing loss, they do not share vocabulary common in High Technology Dialogue, Legal Dialog, and making listening and communicating more complicated. Even professional and trained 911 operators or law enforcement have difficulties understanding and communicating with those who have hearing loss. Although texting is often used, the deaf community has a different grammar (which might more closely follow the grammar of American Sign Language) and style of texting and 911 operators fail to understand. It is national news that people with hearing loss are sometimes abused or shot by law enforcement because they cannot hear instructions, and then they cannot comply with instructions, or they cannot comply in a timely fashion. Every aspect of life is impacted – even a health emergency. With or without hearing aids, many deaf people cannot hear a smoke detector or alarm, and are at extreme risk in situations where their peers are not.

We recognize that although Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the Law of the Land, Judges exercise discretion about how onerous and expensive reasonable accommodation might be. There is a high percentage of people in jail and prison with hearing loss and deafness and other disabling conditions. We would like to bring the message that many people have hearing loss and require improved communication to have a fair chance at learning, cooperating, being healthy, being employed, and receiving Justice.

Because of less access to education, jobs, healthcare, and justice, people with hearing loss and deafness experience greater disparity in society. Cost of accommodating is expensive preventing solutions from helping the people who need it most. Deaf people can be excused from Jury Duty because of the difficulties in following a case when others can hear, but a deaf juror cannot. Judges don’t have to accommodate deaf in the courtroom except while the person is on the stand. Jail Alcoholics Anonymous programs, Anger Management, Education, and telephone services often omit accommodation meaning that those with hearing loss cannot take advantage of the programs. Some jail phone facilities do not permit 800 number calls which are the means to connect with the Relay Operators for the deaf.

We would like to raise awareness to the need for sound institutions and Justice for All, and to engage more people in the project. We envision a day when people with hearing loss and deafness have as much access to Sound Institutions and Justice as everybody else and we look forward to the day when people with hearing loss do not have to self-identify and ask for accommodation. Many people become discouraged and no longer request accommodation, having been denied accommodation in so many places and under so many circumstances for a variety of reasons, including discretion of an individual and budget. But rather, we would like to promote that the mainstream communication systems can provide needed accommodation for many more people than can be served in the present time.

An example of a new mainstream solution for hearing loss on the mobile phone is the Google speech transcription app.

https://www.wired.com/story/google-live-transcribe-sound-amplifier-for-android/

Students and stakeholders can provide insight into the appropriate means of developing a reasonable feasible solution and socializing the solutions for Justice for All. The Team, Stakeholders, Community, and the Students will shape the future. Through this effort, we would like to encourage everyone to engage in Humanitarian Activities projects, to invent the future, and change the world.



“'According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 32 percent of federal prisoners and 40 percent of people in jail have at least one disability,' according to the report.

The organization broke down the statistics on disability;

more than 751,000 people with disabilities are behind bars in America, including:

  • 146,000 who are blind or have vision loss,
  • 153,000 who are deaf or have significant hearing impairments,
  • More than 219,000 who have mobility issues, and
  • more than 504,000 with cognitive impairments,
  • according to the website."


Mock Trial Part 1

Some interesting links:



Team Members include but are not limited to:

  • IEEE New Jersey Coast Section, IEEE Humanitarian Activities Committee Project Team, IEEE-USA PACE, and IEEE Volunteers, Kit August, PhD, Margaret J Lyons, PE, Filomena Citarella, Dave Nall, Eamon Wall, Esquire
  • The Honorable Dr Duncan Rogers Lee, II Esquire, and the Nyack High School Mock Trial Team Nyack New York
  • Members of the Community at Stevens Institute of Technology, Lisa Nocks, PhD, Hong Man, PhD
  • Members of the Community at Herriot Watt University, Mathini Sellathurai, PhD
  • Members of the Community at Charles Sturt University, Herbert Jelinek, PhD
  • Members of the Community at AGH University of Science and Technology, Andrzej M.J. Skulomowski, PhD
  • Members of the Community at University of Wisconsin, Carla Winsor, MS
  • Advisors and Stakeholders from the Community, Avi Hauser, PhD, Nitza Hauser, Cheryl Bliss, Ellen Lawrence
  • Advisor at Gallaudet University, Christian Vogler, PhD
  • Advisor at Harvard Law School, Derek Davis, Esquire