The ACLU of Virginia, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia, and the law firm of Brown, Goldstein, and Levy filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia against the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC), individual VADOC officials, and the Virginia Information Technologies Agency on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia and seven incarcerated blind or visually impaired men being denied equal access to services and programs available to sighted incarcerated people. 

Michael McCann, Kevin Muhammad Shabazz, Patrick Shaw and William Stravitz are currently incarcerated at Deerfield Correctional Center; Nacarlo Antonio Courtney, William Hajacos and Wilbert Rogers are currently incarcerated at Greensville Correctional Center.  

The complaint alleges that VADOC has relied on other incarcerated people to act as so-called “caregivers” for blind or visually impaired prisoners. To fill out such critical materials as requests for medical visits or grievance forms, blind or visually impaired prisoners must ask their “caregivers” to do it for them, as well as to read out loud to them everything from prison policies to private correspondence. 

By failing to provide blind and visually impaired people who are incarcerated in its custody with equal access to services and programs that it makes available to sighted people, VADOC is violating the ADA, Section 504, the Virginians with Disabilities Act, and the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. 


Samantha Westrum, Vishal Agraharkar

Date filed

February 15, 2023


United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia



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