White House including sign-language interpreter in briefings

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News and press briefings coming out of the White House now include a sign-language interpreter. It’s a first for the White House and we talked about the message it sends with Sherri Collins, Executive Director for the Arizona Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

When asked how big of a deal this new move is, Collins responded, “It’s a historical service that the White House is providing for all of the briefings and in the past we’ve never had access to an interpreter, but as a result of a lawsuit from the National Association of the Deaf from the previous administration needing to have an interpreter during Covid-19 briefings and they won that case, so in November the White House had the first ASL interpreter for a Covid briefing but what makes this very special to us in the community is the general White House briefing so we’re really excited about that.”

The emotion of the moment is clear, and so is the message being sent to the deaf and hard of hearing community by this administration. Collins said, “What it means to us is we’re included. It’s an inclusive communication to all people, everyone pays taxes and everyone participates. Everyone has the right to know what is going on at the White House. Also as you know ASL is the primary language for many of us including myself, so for me to get information directly in ASL I have to tell you the first time that I saw that on TV, what a nice feeling. It was so relaxing because it is my first language I was able to watch whats going on at the white house watching the interpreter the whole time, what a nice feeling.”

A message of inclusion from the Biden administration in a time where so many have their eyes on the White House.

Sherri Collins, Executive Director, Arizona Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

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