White House To Have Sign Language Interpreter At COVID Press Briefings


The White House must have a sign language interpreter at White House coronavirus briefings starting Thursday, a federal judge ordered on Wednesday.

“Defendants shall include a qualified ASL interpreter in the… feed for all White House coronavirus briefings,” DC District Court Judge James Boasberg ordered, according to CNN. An interpreter can be either physically near the individual speaking or within the  frame of a video if the interpreter is located elsewhere, per the report.

If the White House chooses to use a remote interpreter, they must make the footage available in a way that “allows the networks to include the qualified ASL interpreter in their live broadcasts,” Boasberg ordered.

The court ruled Sept. 9 that “closed captioning and transcripts may constitute a reasonable accommodation under some circumstances, but not here.”

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 23: President Donald Trump looks on as FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn addresses the media during a press conference in James S. Brady Briefing Room at the White House on on August 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

This will mark the first time in history that any White House has used live ASL interpretation for televised press briefings involving the president, according to the Associated Press.

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and five plaintiffs sued the White House earlier this month over the lack of sign language interpreters for briefings related to the pandemic, according to NBC.

NAD CEO Howard Rosenblum said the order is crucial to keeping everyone informed. (RELATED: Recordings Capture Trump Admitting He Knowingly Downplayed Coronavirus From January To March)

“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,” he said in an official statement. “The judge’s order sets a great precedent to achieve this goal of full accessibility.”