White House Sued over Lack of Sign Language Interpreters

Washington, July 18, 2020 -- The U.S. national flag is seen at half-mast at the White House in tribute to John Lewis in Washington, D.C., the United States, on July 18, 2020. U.S. civil rights pioneer and Congressman John Lewis died at age 80. The White House issued a presidential proclamation earlier on Saturday ordering flags to be flown at half-mast throughout the day in commemoration of the late congressman.

A lawsuit has been filed against the White House over the lack of a sign language interpreter at the US administration’s COVID-19 briefings, according to media reported.

The lawsuit was jointly filed in a district court in Washington, D.C. by the National Association of the Deaf and five differently-abled Americans, The Hill news website reported on Monday.

It accuses President Donald Trump’s administration of a First Amendment violation and the plaintiffs have argued that the captions carried on video of the events lack details that would be conveyed by a sign language interpreter.

The lawsuit further said that Trump “stands alone in holding televised briefings regarding the COVID-19 pandemic without ever having provided any ASL (American Sign Language) interpretation”.

Washington, July 21, 2020 — Photo taken on July 21, 2020 shows the White House in Washington, D.C., the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump said Tuesday afternoon that the coronavirus pandemic in the United States will probably “get worse before it gets better.” More than 3.8 million people in the United States have infected with the virus, with more than 141,000 deaths, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University, as some states, including Florida, are seeing a surge in cases.

“This means that not only are (deaf and hard of hearing) Americans being denied the opportunity to understand any communication from the President of the US during this critical time, they are also being denied the opportunity to access information, analysis, and updates from Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx”.

The White House is yet to comment on the development, said The Hill news report.

Trump resumed the daily coronavirus briefings in July after they were suspended earlier this year following wide criticisms against the President for unscientific suggestions he made, including injecting bleach into the body to kill the virus.

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