Search This Blog

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Jury Duty and Me

I got a jury duty notification sometime last year – first one since the grand deafening. There was a website where I could ask questions and all that. I went there and keyed in that I very much wanted to serve BUT would need CART as I’m deaf and not fluent in ASL. I never got a reply and, more or less, forgot about it.

Here we are, a year later – I just got a postcard cancelling my “summons.”

“Since you were summoned, the needs of the court have changed. YOU ARE NO LONGER REQUIRED TO APPEAR FOR JUROR SERVICE. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.”

Huh. No response to my question about whether they’re able to accommodate deaf jurors with CART. Does this generic postcard cancellation mean no, they can’t deal with CART needing deaf jurors or was my service ixnayed for some other reason.

I realize that it’d be expensive for the state to hire a ‘terp or a CART stenographer but, geez, I’m a citizen – isn’t it my right to take part in the justice system?

Of course I unleashed my google fu.

The answer, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act  (and specifically DeLong v. Brumbaugh) is YOU BETCHA! But it looks like I’d have to be ASL fluent versus needing CART.

Meanwhile in London:
"Matthew Johnston served on three trials during a two-week period at Blackfriars crown court, concluding last Thursday. He read subtitles from courtroom stenographers and relied on his lip-reading skills to participate in jury deliberations. Johnston has a small amount of hearing as a result of his cochlear implant, and is able to speak.

It’s all about inclusivity, isn’t it,” Johnston said. “It’s a big thing for me … We don’t want to turn our backs to society, we want to be part of society. We want to feel included. I feel great that I can be one of a jury.”" (source)
Lipreading alone would NOT be sufficiently
accurate or comprehensive in a trial situation (or a medical setting) – too many ULTRA important bits would be missed.

Check out this awesome essay in Stanford Magazine by Rachel Kolb:
Even the most skilled lipreaders in English, I have read, can discern an average of 30 percent of what is being said. I believe this figure to be true. There are people with whom I catch almost every word—people I know well, or who take care to speak at a reasonable rate, or whose faces are just easier on the eyes (for lack of a better phrase). But there are also people whom I cannot understand at all. On average, 30 percent is a reasonable number.

But 30 percent is also rather unreasonable. How does one have a meaningful conversation at 30 percent? It is like functioning at 30 percent of normal oxygen, or eating 30 percent of recommended calories—possible to subsist, but difficult to feel at your best and all but impossible to excel. 
Take a gander at this fab vid, Can You Read My Lips
and see how you fare.

Here are some dandy, hopefully helpful hints for successfully chitchatting with your d/Deaf pals:

  1. Don't just start talking – get my attention before commencing with the communication action.
  2. Give me some context before launching in – what are you going to be jawing about (maybe write that bit down and show it to me before you start, eh?)
  3. My eyes to your eyes – put your face on the same level as mine. i.e., don’t make me look up or down to see your lips move. But DO NOT get all up in my face either. I'm deaf, not blind – stand or sit a normal conversation distance away.
  4. Don’t stand/sit with the sun or other light source behind you. If your face is backlit/ in shadow, I can’t see your lips clearly enough to read them.
  5. Speak in a normal voice and tone. Don’t over enunciate – that distorts your word shapes. So does speaking loudly. Also, talking loudly to a deafie is just plain silly and WAY fucking pointless. I’m deaf – my auditory nerve is totally disconnected. Amplifying your utterances to 11 isn’t gonna make my banjaxed sound system magically function.
  6. You may not know any ASL or how to finger spell BUT you can still use a few simple gestures to help illustrate what you're trying to say. Fer instance, point to/hold up any items that you're talking about. If something’s big or small, hold your hands far a part or close together, etc. Try to think visually and get creative.
  7. If I just can’t read you or the convo includes loads of details, have your cell phone handy. Open a notes doc and either speak into the phone mic or tippy tap in your message.
Back at jury duty. I think that, next time I get a summons, I'll go into the District Court Office versus relying on the online messaging site and ask wut up, can I serve.


  1. I think it more the likely the Trump-Flu. I don't know if there are any jury trials now because of the pretendident's pandemic.

    1. I think you're right. Still, they took their damn time getting back to me and didn't answer my questions.