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Alec McFarlane's picture

Letter to Anne C. Boyle in regard to FCC Hearing on Reforming Inmate Calling Services Rates

ASCLA President and Members
The ASCLA is never far from my heart and there are so many other things that we at the ALA can do or should do.  While we cannot impose these things, the objective is to find solutions, and the ASCLA has been working on solutions in regard to prisons for a while now.  Alice Hagemeyer and I were a little taken aback when we realized the library resources had not been mentioned and that Ms. Boyle was unaware of the existence of the ASCLA or its focus.  I also make references to my work with various committees under the DCWG and I believe these are all relevant to the larger picture.  
Postings can be found on the ASCLA Bridging Deaf Cultures @ Your Library SIG.  
As sent and posted elsewhere in ALA Connect:
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For Public Release

Commissioner Anne C.  Boyle

2nd District, Omaha, NE
Nebraska Public Service Commission
Re: The FCC Program: 
Reforming Inmate Calling Services Rates
July 10, 2013 - FCC Commission Meeting Room
Washington, D.C.
On behalf of Alice Hagemeyer, my boss and mentor at the LDA, I wish to thank you for your stewardship today at the FCC and for your warm welcome afterwards.  We count ourselves fortunate to have had the chance to speak with you and some others in attendance.  The appearance of Talila Lewis, the Founder of HEARD, as a panelist was the one of many reasons we wanted to be at this program today. Ms. Lewis understands what is happening in the deaf community, and that understanding extends to the LCD or Lowest Common Denominator, our inmates. Alice and I realized, in retrospect, that the workshop had not mentioned the library or the assets of the library. On that account I forward you my recent work in Chicago with the ALA or the American Library Association in abstract.
There are eleven (11) divisions at the ALA (http://www.ala.org/) and I am a member of two of those: United for Libraries which is composed of friends, foundations, trustees, and the likes (http://www.ala.org/united/), and the ASCLA or the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (http://www.ala.org/ascla/) which, among other things, concerns itself with prisons and prisoner rights to access to information and where a "Prison" (or for that matter a "Jail") has a library it is specialized and private, hence the "Specialized" moniker in ASCLA.  The NIH or the National Institute of Health, for instance, has a private library that is considered Specialized. and this is by no means limited to governmental organizations as there are obviously many private libraries and museums in America.  These all contribute to our national well being.  I am no expert in prison or library issues, but we do -- at the LDA-- deal with and advocate for deaf civil rights.  Our primary vehicle for this advocacy has been the pursuit of the DCDL or the Deaf Cultural Digital Library we proposed in Maryland (http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/mdmanual/26excom/defunct/html/11deaf.html) and as noted herewith. We would like to see Maryland be a model for the Nation and for the World, but that is another story.   As we envision the DCDL at the LDA, this is a state-level public library that serves all four types of libraries. This is supposed to be a library about the deaf, but for everyone.  Especially since anyone, anywhere, anytime, anyplace can become deaf and because the number one disability of veterans coming back from the war is auditory.  
Our close cousin, the NLS or the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped was founded in 1931, and we are not here to complain but to show how some of our friends-in-arms have utilized existing systems we identify as part of the American PPP or Public/Private Partnerships.
There is a lot more that I can, and will, share with you but to encapsulate this problem we accept that people are afraid of what they do not know.  This FCC subject matter being of a national problem and of a national program; the practical subject matter is that the phone --as such-- is no longer just a phone where the phone itself has always posed technical challenges.  We have to think about what happens when you no longer have a phone, so to speak? What is a phone anyway? A land-line directly traceable to a single location or an internet-enabled device? And usable by whom? And... if I am allowed to venture, why not a closed system? It seems to work in certain areas of the world.  The only constant in life is change so we --again at the LDA-- have been proposing that we all (as in every one of us) make accessibility --for anyone-- the key.  How does the cost come down? By supply and demand?  By innovation? By wise use of resources?
Forgive me, I was leading you on; I am saying it is the wise use of resources (hint, you're inside the beltway now... not out yonder in Nebraska).  On this account I think that the ASCLA, and by way of the ALA, deserve a good look in relation to this matter; no one is going to get rehabilitated without valid, reliable, and useful information by any means... and that includes --but is not limited to-- telecommunications, multimedia, and other means of communication.  If the American Inmate system is a closed system and is subject to monitoring, that does not take away from the elemental fact and need of communication.
Thank You for your time and consideration
Alec C. McFarlane
Library for Deaf Action (LDA)
2930 Craiglawn Rd.
Silver Spring, MD 20904-1816
ALA Member 2004704
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