United States Attorney Hosts Meeting with South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Community to Plan Training
Contact Person: Rob Sneed (843) 266-1600
Columbia, South Carolina---- United States Attorney Beth Drake stated today that the United States Attorney’s Office is working to uphold the commitments in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office hosted a meeting that included the Department of Justice Community Relations Service, the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community to coordinate training for law enforcement on practical ways to communicate and serve the hard of hearing and deaf community.
U.S. Attorney Drake stated that, “Twenty-six years ago, Congress passed, and President George H. W. Bush signed, the ADA, ushering in a new era of civil rights for people with disabilities in this country.” She further stated that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in collaboration with the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division enforces the ADA to ensure that people with disabilities can live, work, learn, vote, and play in their own communities – free from discrimination and able to participate in the mainstream of American life. Title II of the ADA has an Effective Communications requirement, where certain public entities, including law enforcement, must take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with individuals with disabilities are “as effective” as communications with others. This includes providing appropriate auxiliary aids and services where necessary.
Attending the meeting were: two members of the South Carolina Association of the Deaf: Anita Steichen-McDaniel, Executive Director and Joy Hill, Administrative Assistant; Roger C. Williams, who is the Director of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing at the South Carolina Department of Mental Health; Walter Atkinson, who is a Senior Conciliation Specialist with the Department of Justice Community Relations Service; and Wayne C. Harris, a senior training official at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. Also attending from the U.S. Attorney’s Office were U.S. Attorney Beth Drake, Civil Division Chief Barbara Bowens, Affirmative Civil Rights Coordinator Rob Sneed, Criminal Civil Rights coordinator Alyssa Richardson, and Law Enforcement Coordinator Becky Plyer.
The group discussed issues facing South Carolina’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing community when interacting with law enforcement. They also discussed training programs and opportunities for law enforcement through the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy. The South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, the SC Association of the Deaf, and the South Carolina Department of Mental Health were eager to partner in the immediate future in additional training for law enforcement in order to enhance communication between law enforcement and persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
According to U.S. Attorney Beth Drake, collaborative efforts such as this are a “win-win” situation for South Carolina. The Deaf and Hard of Hearing community can impart invaluable training and experience to law enforcement; and the law enforcement community will be better prepared to protect and serve persons hard of hearing or deaf. “The South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy does terrific work with the resources it has to prepare our officers for the challenges on the streets. This meeting this week is just another example of how the Criminal Justice Academy leans in to the real life challenges that officers face on the street. Every dollar spent in training our officers at the CJA saves lives.”