SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The Biden Administration has brought regular news briefings back to the White House. With that, they’re adding something new: American Sign Language interpreters. They will become a regular fixture at briefings going forward. This is an effort to bring easier access to those who are deaf. This is the first time this has happened in a presidential administration.
“We will have an ASL – American Sign Language interpreter for our daily press briefings,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said.
The Biden Administration announced this in January as a part of their accessibility and inclusion efforts. For Augustana University Student Mekhi Moore, it’s a sign that times are changing.
“It’s something I think is very important as the world is changing and as technology is developing, we need to start having equal access to communication,” Moore said.
Moore grew up hard of hearing and he says he uses ASL in nearly every aspect of his life.
“Whether that’s using Marco Polo the app, whether that’s at work where I had to encounter deaf people,” Moore said.
Moore is a Sign Language Interpreting Major. He takes courses through the University’s nationally accredited program.
“Students interact with the local deaf community, we invite deaf guests to come and present to our classes, so it’s really an authentic program,” Assistant Professor Tanya Miller said.
Miller was born deaf. She says having an interpreter growing up played a crucial role in her education.
“There are many deaf children that are born to hearing parents that don’t know how to sign… and they don’t have access to language, and that’s actually called ‘Language Deprivation,'” Miller said.
Miller says that deaf people have to think about access to communication on a daily basis. While reading and captioning are necessary, it’s not always preferred. She says having qualified interpreters around frequently would make for more effective communication.
“This should become a more normalized activity. It should be something that’s expected everywhere we are,” Miller said.
“Having the ability to communicate to those who don’t speak English or anything like that, so, I think, that it’s just a good skill to have whether that’s ASL, Spanish, or anything like that,” Moore said.
Moore says, once he graduates, that he hopes to create his own interpreting program for Black, Indigenous People of Color.