Texas court upholds hard-of-hearing prisoners’ right to telecommunications access

Fred Cohen, Hearinghealthmatters.org’s expert on the nexus between hearing and the law, contributed the following post to Hearing News Watch.


By Fred Cohen

AUSTIN, TX–A Texas state trial court has issued an order requiring Texas prison authorities to provide telecommunications to hearing-impaired prisoners using the Texas prison telephonic system

The order requires the prison system to immediately make services available to hearing-impaired prisoners so they can communicate with people on their approved lists under conditions similar to those governing prisoners without hearing impairments. The only difference is that prisoners with hearing loss must submit a written request to the warden or designee two hours in advance of the requested phone call.

The prison system was also ordered to “investigate ways to implement the use of videophone technology to accommodate inmates with disabilities within the Texas prison facilities.”  See Arrington v. Securus Technologies, Inc., 419th J.D. Court, Travis Co. (TX), Case No. D-1-GN-10-000515.

Texas appealed the ruling, but the Court of Appeals refused to stay enforcement of the temporary injunction pending resolution of the appeal. The trial court subsequently entered a permanent injunction that mooted the state’s interlocutory appeal, which was dismissed on April 25, 2012. See: Livingston v. Arrington, Texas Court of Appeals, Third District at Austin, No. 03-11-00266-CV.  (Source: Prison Legal News, Sept. 2012)