Video Description. A short video to show the world about HEARD and #DeafInPrison, #DeafAccesstoJustice #DeafWrongfulConviction.

Ethan Johnson created this video as a tribute to our Founder, Talila “TL” Lewis, who received the prestigious Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award from the American Association of Persons with Disabilities in March 2014.


Video opens with a shot of HEARD logo shifting in piece by piece, followed by the words “have you HEARD?”, then pans to a screen that is blue with white words “Al Jazeera America” all while the first narrator speaks:

Prison can be hard on anyone, but it can be much worse for deaf prisoners. The isolation and abuse within penitentiary walls often goes unreported.

[scene change] : In 2010, two inmates attacked Felix in the showers.

Felix Garcia sits in a room in a prison, wearing a light blue prison uniform. He uses sign language and voice to communicate the following story:

I was in the shower. I’m watching the door. Somebody’s there. I don’t know. He come in. Through the bar he grabbed me. I’m fighting. I’m fighting. I can’t get them off.
I can’t reach him and I passed out. I wake up. There’s blood on my face. They’d raped me.

[scene changes] a car passes a sign that says Tomoka Correctional Institution. Talila Lewis narrates. Throughout the next narration, subjects are in a moving car car and an empty room for an interview.

My name is Talila A. Lewis and I am the founder and president of HEARD; Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf. It’s a nonprofit organization that focuses on correcting and preventing deaf wrongful convictions and deaf prisoner abuse.

[scene changes] Talila is walking through a prison’s metal detector. On the wall in the background, a shield says Tomoka Correctional Institution. Talila walks through the detector after guard says “you can go on through.” Talila walks to a room and chats in sign with Felix about how many seats are needed for the people present to sit in the space. Throughout the next narration, there are scenes of Talila signing with Felix and another with Talila sitting with a table working with a HEARD intern.

Talila voices: I started HEARD because I could not find an organization in the nation who was working on creating a just justice system, that was willing to and able to take on cases of wrongful conviction involving deaf individuals; and those who had the resources did not have the cultural competence, and those who have the cultural competence did not have the resources.

Over the past three years, we’ve operated with less than $6000. All of the work that we do is because we know it’s the right thing to do.

I don’t have the resources. I do have the heart, and the passion and the drive—and that’s what’s kept me and HEARD, and those around me going.

[scene change] HEARD Intern, Alexandre Dubsky sits in a space with a brick wall and yellow background. He signs:

This organization impacts people’s lives. People’s lives are greatly effected by what happens to them in the court system. And not just the inequities in the court system, but jails and prisons are not a good experience for them at all. And their collective experience has made a profound imprint on me, personally. I mean, this could happen to me!

And how can I change that? I want to change the lives of others for the better.

[Scene changes] Senior producer for Al Jazeera English, Jeremy Young is seated at a table near a busy street while he discusses HEARD:

If it wasn’t for HEARD advocating for these people, there would be nobody advocating for them. There are not other organizations that are doing the same work. They are the only organization that is advocating on their behalf.

I know several inmates that are deaf or hard of hearing that I can think of off the top of my head, who would want me to say that they are thankful for the work that Talila Lewis is doing and they are thankful for the work that HEARD is doing.

[scene change] Talila seated in an empty room narrates:

Showing the world our work and what we’ve done; and sharing the stories of people who for centuries—I should say decades—have gone unheard; and making sure that they are heard, notwithstanding their incarcerated state. I think that’s important.

Video ends with music and HEARD logo with website www.behearddc.org just under the logo.


Thanks to HEARD supporter, videographer Ethan Johnson for creating this amazing video. Please support his work by visiting his website at www.ethandavidstudios.com.

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