March 19 Update Coronavirus Transcript

HOWARD: Due to what’s happening, many of us are still concerned with coronavirus (covid-19). It is important for us to stay safe and healthy. The NAD continues to advocate for access to clear information because government agencies and health officials are constantly releasing new updates throughout the day, everyday. Because of these constant updates, we don’t know if there’s a lockdown happening, if a certain place or restaurants are open or closed. This is very confusing. As a result, it is very important for these government and health officials to provide two things: American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters and quality captions in all communications so all deaf and hard of hearing people have access to important information at the same time as hearing people. All of us are concerned that government health officials, our leaders on the federal, state, and local levels are not always including ASL interpreters or quality captioning (as opposed to auto-captioning) on TV and the Internet. This must happen consistently, and we must always continue advocating for this equal access. For instance, the White House has not included ASL interpreters in any of their coronavirus press briefings to date. The NAD has tried to find the right person at the White House to discuss this issue. We are grateful to a government agency, the National Council on Disability (NCD), because they sent a letter to the White House Director of Communications asking for a qualified ASL interpreter in any coronavirus press briefings at the White House moving forward. We followed NCD’s approach, and sent the White House Director of Communications a letter asking also to include a qualified ASL interpreter in their press briefings and shown fully and appropriately on camera. You can view our letter online. That’s for the federal level. On the state and local governments, we are impressed that apparently 47 states’ Governors have included ASL interpreters in their press briefings, which means that three states have not done so. We must tell those three states’ Governors to provide ASL interpreters during such briefings. While the NAD can assist, we need your help to convince those Governors to provide ASL interpreters during their conferences. The more people who send them feedback, the sooner they’ll improve their access. This doesn’t mean that those who live in the other 47 states can relax and think all is fine. We must continue to ensure that all state and local government and health officials continue to include the ASL interpreters in future press briefings, and not forget to do it sometimes. Please take the time to thank your Governor for including ASL interpreters if they did and ask them to continue. If your Governor hasn’t, please tell them to get ASL interpreters. We also need to remember that mayors and other local government officials do not always provide ASL interpreters in their press briefings, and we need to contact them too. We have a letter template you can use on our website — edit to fit your situation appropriately and send the letters yourself directly to your Governor or your local officials. Again, the more of us that send feedback, the sooner they’ll provide access. So one part is to ensure that government officials are including ASL interpreters. However, the other part is to ensure that the TV network includes the ASL interpreter in their camera shot. In fact, we’ve seen one situation where one ASL interpreter was halfway cropped in the camera shot. This means we need to tell the TV network to include the ASL interpreter in the television frame appropriately and to provide quality closed captioning, not auto-captioning, in their broadcast on TV and the Internet. If you notice any captioning errors, you can file a complaint with the FCC — you can find that information on our website as well. Please use our letter template to share feedback with the TV network if you notice any errors with their camera placement of the ASL interpreter. The NAD sent a letter to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) which is an umbrella organization with TV network members such as ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox and so on. Our letter asked NAB to remind their broadcaster members to include the ASL interpreter in their camera shot if the ASL interpreter is present and to have accurate captioning in every coronavirus related broadcast, both on TV and the Internet. You can view our letter to NAB online. Also, an update about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a government agency that provides information about the coronavirus on their website, but none of it is in ASL. We contacted the CDC two weeks ago asking them to provide ASL translation for their coronavirus related information on their website, and have been in constant communications about solutions. Finally, we’re happy to share that CDC has posted several ASL videos which you can access from our website. The NAD will continue to advocate with the CDC for more access to their information, as we want them to do more ASL videos. You can thank the CDC yourselves and encourage them to continue providing ASL access for their web content. Our work is not done. We are faced with the unknown. We’re not sure how long coronavirus will impact us and disrupt our lives. No one knows for sure about anything. Are our jobs secure, we don’t know. Whatever our lives are like or what our experience or journey is, we all need to work together and do our best to advocate for equal access to important information. The deaf and hard of hearing community is in this together. Let’s continue to support each other through this tough time. Thank you.