The Biden administration continues to take shape up on Capitol Hill. As Janet Yellen takes office as the next Treasury Secretary, changes were being made in the James. S. Brady Briefing Room. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki has announced that American Sign Language interpreters will now be added to all White House press briefings. The addition began on Monday as an interpreter identified as Heather translated the briefing from a remote location. Psaki explained that the change is "part of this administration's accessibility and inclusion efforts."
"The president is committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just and more accessible for every American," Psaki said.
This is the administration's latest move to make public gatherings more accessible. During Inauguration Day ceremonies, the Pledge of Allegiance was translated in ASL. Recent moves to make these gatherings have garnered praise from accessibility advocates, a stark difference from Biden's predecessor.
The National Association of the Deaf sued the Trump administration for failing to provide ASL interpreters for the ongoing COVID-19 press briefings. Ultimately, the court ruled that the White House would have to comply.
"Closed captioning and transcripts may constitute a reasonable accommodation under some circumstances, but not here," the court ruled.
With nearly 12 million experiencing a form of hearing loss, ASL interpreters are essential for important press briefings. The latest move from the Biden administration will set a standard for Presidents to come.
"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.
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