This news article highlights the importance of having sign language interpreters available in real-time to provide lifesaving information from government leaders during press conferences.
To keep Americans safe, it is important that all people have access to important information amid the COVID-19 pandemic. American Sign Language (ASL) is the clearest and most broadly understood form of communication among the Deaf community. This new group of essential workers has had to learn an entirely new lexicon with this pandemic, often requiring on-the-fly interpretation essential to helping people who are deaf or hearing-impaired understand safety information. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires “functionally equivalent” communication, yet federal loopholes have allowed some government leaders, particularly the president of the United States, to avoid having interpreters and instead simply adding delayed closed captioning to videos later. Advocates argue that communicating via ASL in real-time is a “moral imperative” when every person needs to know what to do to avoid infecting others.