Today, a federal district court ordered the White House to provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, live streamed on its website (whitehouse.gov/live), for all public briefings held by the President, Vice President, and Press Secretary that address the COVID-19 pandemic. The order requires that an ASL interpreter be provided at any coronavirus briefing held on White House grounds or at any federal agency. The Court has also ordered the White House to make the interpreter feed available to all TV networks in a manner that will allow those networks to show the interpreter in their live feeds. The injunction will take effect on October 1, 2020.
The court had previously issued an opinion on September 9, 2020, which found that the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and five individual deaf plaintiffs were entitled to relief in some form. The court found that the plaintiffs had the right to compel the White House to provide ASL interpreters for all of its press briefings that cover the coronavirus pandemic. The court then held another hearing on September 17, 2020 to discuss how to set up the process to have ASL interpreters during White House press briefings.
NAD CEO Howard A. Rosenblum said, “Sign language and accurate captioning are both essential and crucial to ensuring all deaf and hard of hearing people are well informed and are able to make better decisions on how to stay safe from the pandemic. The judge’s order sets a great precedent to achieve this goal of full accessibility.”