Deaf, homeless immigrant says Virginia jail denied him a sign-language interpreter for 6 weeks

A deaf immigrant is suing northern Virginia authorities who he says jailed him for six weeks without access to an interpreter.

Abreham Zemedagegehu (zeh-MAY'-duh-geh-GAY'-hoo) was born in Ethiopia and his ability to read and write English is limited. But he's fluent in American Sign Language.

He says in his federal lawsuit against the Arlington County sheriff that he spent two days in jail before he even knew what he had been charged with — stealing an iPad whose owner later found it.

He also said the jail conducted medical procedures on him during the booking process without explaining them to him or getting his consent.

Jail officials would not comment on the specific allegations. But they said generally that they have solid plans in place for communicating with deaf inmates.