BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ- After decades of not having consistent access to an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter at White House press briefings, the Biden administration has hired a permanent interpreter, to the gratitude of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students at Governor Livingston.
This decision comes amid the COVID-19 crisis, requiring access to consistent and accurate information for all Americans.
The use of an interpreter was implemented on January 25, five days after Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.
As for why an interpreter has been hired, Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, “The President is committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just, and more accessible for every American.”
The Deaf community relies on information from public health experts being accurately conveyed. With nearly 10 million Deaf and Hard of Hearing people living in the United States, advocates continue to push for greater access to information for individual safety.
Included in that community are students who attend Governor Livingston in the mainstream Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program.
A mainstream program, like the one at Governor Livingston, teaches deaf students alongside a predominantly hearing population. Tasked with navigating a predominantly hearing space, these students are given educational interpreters and other resources to help reach their goals.
“I think I was first introduced to having an ASL interpreter when I first visited GL for a school tour,” said senior Athena N. “In my elementary and middle school years, I had hearing teachers who knew sign language. I felt amazed finally having an ASL interpreter. It was a pleasure to have them with me. They were so helpful.”