Regina Daniels, M.A., Assistant Professor in the Carlstrom ASL-Interpreting Department, recently found herself at the center of the action for White House Coronavirus Task Force briefings, serving as an ASL interpreter.
Daniels said several organizations recently partnered to make While House briefings accessible for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community. Through the coordinated efforts of CSD (Communication Service for the Deaf, DPAN (Deaf Professional Arts Network), RID (Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf), and Convo, a deaf-owned video relay service, the task force briefings now have American Sign Language interpretation and closed captioning.
According to a news release from CSD, “Each of the four participating organizations is providing a key element of the live ASL interpretation of the White House briefings. CSD is providing Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services, known as real-time captioning; DPAN is providing the live streaming capabilities; and RID and CONVO are providing the ASL interpreters.”
Daniels, who first interpreted for the White House briefing on May 1, said several two-person Deaf interpreter/hearing interpreter teams from all over the country serve on rotation for these news briefings. “The interpreter who can hear takes the source message from the speaker and puts it into sign for the Deaf interpreter,” Daniels explained. “The Deaf interpreter then puts the message into the most native-like form of ASL.” She noted that having a native ASL-speaker interpret ensures the message is more clearly understood.
Sydney Groven, M.A., Instructor in the Carlstrom ASL-Interpreting Department, will also be serving as a member of the White House briefing interpreting team.
Deaf advocates rallied for several weeks to bring ASL-interpreting and not just closed-captioning to the coronavirus briefings. A report on cbs4indy.com noted that many state governments were using interpreters, but it was equally important to have the services provided at the national level. The report noted, “Many in the Deaf community say they are growing wary of not having important information disseminated to them through qualified sign language interpreters.”
With the pandemic impacting every aspect of daily life, advocacy groups sent the message that the Deaf community needed access to updates about the coronavirus situation.
Daniels is proud to be part of this coordinated effort. “This is truly an amazing opportunity for us, and we are excited to provide access to the community,” Daniels said. “This kind of access has been a dream of the Deaf community for some time, and it is finally coming to fruition. Awareness about these organizations, however, still needs attention.”