News & Politics

Judge Orders White House to Have Sign Language Interpreter During Covid Briefings

Photograph by Alexander Ramjing via iStock.
Coronavirus 2020

About Coronavirus 2020

Washingtonian is keeping you up to date on the coronavirus around DC.

Federal Judge James Boasberg has ordered the White House to provide live American Sign Language interpretation during coronavirus briefings, starting on Thursday, October 1. The White House will not only be obligated to feature an ASL interpreter, but must also provide TV networks with a feed of the interpreter that can be broadcast. The ruling applies to any coronavirus briefing on White House grounds or at federal agencies.

The order comes after the National Association of the Deaf and five deaf Americans filed a lawsuit last month against Donald Trump and other members of the administration asking to have sign language included at the briefings. You can read the full opinion here. Reacting to the order, NAD CEO Howard 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.

According to NAD, this will be the first time in US history that a president has provided ASL interpretation during a live televised press briefing.

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in NoMa.