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The White House Will Have a Sign Language Interpreter Under the Biden Administration

The White House will have an American Sign Language interpreter at all of its briefings, Jen Psaki, press secretary, announced on Monday, January 25. This is the latest decision that has set apart President Joe Biden‘s administration from Donald Trump’s (who refused to include an ASL interpreter at his briefings). 

“As a part of this administration’s accessibility and inclusion efforts, starting today we will have an ASL, an American Sign Language interpreter, for our daily press briefings,” Psaki said alongside an ASL interpreter, who appeared virtually. “The president is committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just, and more accessible for every American, including Americans with disabilities and their families.”

The White House press briefing

White House

This is the first time the White House will use an ASL interpreter for all of its news briefings. NBC News reports the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) and five plaintiffs sued the White House in September 2020 and urged the administration to provide ASL interpreters for briefings related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“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,” NAD CEO Howard A. Rosenblum said in a statement following the court’s decision to rule in their favor. “The judge’s order sets a great precedent to achieve this goal of full accessibility.”

The National Association of the Deaf also issued a statement this week regarding President Biden’s decision to include ASL interpreters in White House briefings. It reads, “There is more work to be done, but this is a great day for inclusion and access for the deaf and hard of hearing community.”

Here’s hoping this is an indicator of more inclusive measures to come from this presidential administration. 

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