Access During Coronavirus Public Briefings

Many of you have contacted the NAD about the lack of American Sign Language (ASL) and captioning access to public briefings about coronavirus across the country, including the White House press conferences. 

We agree that the White House must provide ASL interpreters during their press conferences and ensure that the ASL interpreter is visible on screen so that all deaf and hard of hearing people have the same information at the same time about coronavirus as everyone else. 

We thank the National Council on Disability for sending a letter to the White House to ask for this access, and the NAD has also sent a letter to the White House. Our letter asked for ASL interpreters at all White House public briefings. Our letter also asked the White House to direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide their information about coronavirus in ASL immediately.

We ask everyone who shares our concerns about their lack of ASL access to send a message to the White House directly and request interpreters during live press conferences about coronavirus. The more of you that do this, the sooner we may see an interpreter during the White House press conferences.

The NAD has sent a letter to the National Association of Broadcasters asking them to make sure that TV news broadcasters include the ASL interpreter on the screen and fully and accurately captions for all coronavirus press conferences. 

Thanks to all who advocated for (and continue to advocate for) ASL interpreters in your states! It looks like most states’ Governors* did have an ASL interpreter next to them during their public briefings on coronavirus. Please thank your Governor who did! If your Governor did not have an ASL interpreter during their public briefing, please use our letter template and send a letter to your Governor’s office. Use the same template if your mayor or local government did not provide a qualified ASL interpreter during their public briefings.

If there was an ASL interpreter but the camera did not fully show the ASL interpreter then send a letter to the news broadcaster responsible using our provided template. If the public briefing was not captioned or was poorly captioned (such as auto captions) either on TV or on the Internet, please file a complaint with the FCC.

For a complete list of places and letters to file complaints with, please see the NAD’s Coronavirus webpage.

*Thanks go to David Wantuck who compiled on his Facebook page photographs of all governors and their coronavirus press briefings, which seems to show that as of March 17, 2020, 47 states’ Governors had an ASL interpreter with them during their conferences.