It has been reported that a Deaf immigrant in America was jailed for six weeks with no access to an interpreter.
He knew he was in jail, but he didn’t know why.
Eventually, Abreham Zemedagegehu learned that he’d been accused of stealing an iPad — an iPad whose owner later found it. He spent the next six weeks in jail, unable to communicate with his jailers because he is deaf. He described a frightening, isolated experience in which medical procedures were performed without his consent and he feared for his safety.
Zemedagegehu sued the Arlington County sheriff last month in federal court, saying his treatment failed to meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“I felt like I was losing my mind,” Zemedagegehu said through an interpreter in an interview at his lawyer’s office. “I thought Virginia would give me an interpreter and they said no. That’s why I felt lost.”
Zemedagegehu, who is homeless, is a U.S. citizen who was born in Ethiopia. He grew up using Ethiopian Sign Language. He has learned American Sign Language, but he has never learned more than rudimentary written English.
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