Washington D.C., August 3, 2020 — The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) filed a lawsuit today to compel U.S. President Donald J. Trump and the White House to immediately begin providing American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters during television broadcasts of their coronavirus press conferences and briefings to make them accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people. Arnold & Porter, an international law firm dedicated to pro bono litigation and equal access issues, joins the NAD in this lawsuit representing the NAD and five deaf individuals: Carlton Strail, Graham Forsey, Debra Fleetwood, John Rivera Jr., and Corey Axelrod.

“Deaf and hard of hearing Americans deserve the same access to information from the White House and the President that everyone else gets,” said Howard A. Rosenblum, Chief Executive Officer of the NAD. “Such information must be provided not only through captioning but also in American Sign Language, especially for government announcements regarding health pandemics.”

Despite repeated requests from NAD, members of Congress, and even another federal agency, the White House has refused to provide interpreters during the briefings. “All 50 states’ governors have provided ASL interpretation for their public briefings relating to COVID-19, and most now do so consistently,” said Ian Hoffman, a partner at Arnold & Porter, who filed the lawsuit.  “The White House has never done so.  The law prohibits this exclusion of deaf people from the President’s public briefings.  We are proud to stand with our clients and all deaf and hard of hearing Americans who rely on interpreters and want equal access to the President’s communications during this public health crisis.”  

As more than 4.7 million Americans have been infected with coronavirus with more than 150,000 dead, deaf and hard of hearing people are more at risk to being affected with the coronavirus.  They are often left behind with the latest updates and actions the U.S. government has taken to address this pandemic. 

On behalf of hundreds of thousands of deaf and hard of hearing people whose primary language is ASL, the NAD and these five deaf individuals ask the White House to provide ASL interpreters during all COVID-19 related briefings so that they can have meaningful access to such important information. While captioning is generally available during live broadcasts on network television broadcasts, live captioning is often not accurate enough, especially for people whose primary language is ASL. 

The complaint alleges that the White House is in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, which mandates meaningful access for people with disabilities to all White House communications, particularly those regarding public health crises. Information about the coronavirus changes rapidly, including recommended health policies and the re-opening of schools, activities, and businesses. Without accessible information, deaf and hard of hearing people are left with more questions than answers. And when top government officials make important announcements regarding the coronavirus pandemic without ASL interpreters, deaf and hard of hearing people cannot understand the communications—including how to best protect their health.

This lawsuit seeks to ensure access to the highest levels of government for deaf and hard of hearing people, who have long been neglected by the U.S. President and the White House for failing to ensure meaningful access to governmental announcements. 


You can find the press release here, along with the video that accompanies it: https://www.nad.org/2020/08/03/nad-sues-white-house/

The New York State Independent Living Council, Inc (NYSILC), along with peers in our disability community, mourn the death of George Floyd and other Black lives due to excessive police force.  Black lives must matter. Disability transcends all race/ethnicities, ages, genders, and identifications and, as advocates for equality and justice, we support all peaceful efforts to reform police policies and practices that disproportionately and negatively impact Black people. Together, we witness institutional bias, discrimination, poverty and inequality in health care, employment, education, housing, and transportation. We will work together towards full equality and justice for all, including the reform of institutions and their discriminatory policies and practices. NYSILC is committed to systemic change.


NYSILC Support and Sign On to the Greater Rochester’s Black Agenda


Identified by a council member for support and sign on, this is more than a regional agenda. It recognizes that racism is a public health crisis and educates why racism exists, how to address it, and what underlying issues must be addressed.

The New York State Independent Living Council, Inc. (NYSILC) is an independent, non-profit state council with the primary responsibility to jointly develop, monitor and evaluate the three-year Statewide Plan for Independent Living (SPIL) with the Federal network of Centers for Independent Living (CILs) and the New Yorkers with disabilities they serve. The council is authorized under Section 705 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act, as amended.

NYSILC is in the process of seeking four candidates to serve as volunteer council members appointed by the NYS Regents to three-year terms. NYSILC seeks diverse membership, including individuals with various disabilities, race/ethnicities, ages, and gender identification, geographically located throughout the state.

Individuals should complete an online application form (https://nysilc.org/council/council-member-application) in its entirety. Candidates must respond by June 26, 2020. Refer to the NYSILC background and member expectations for more information.

If you have any questions about the application, process, or duties of council members, contact Brad Williams at the NYSILC office: (518) 427-1060 (voice/TTY), or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you for your interest in the council.

NYSILC’s next Full Council Meeting will take place on Friday, May 29th, 2020 from 10 am – 1 pm. The meeting will be held on Zoom video conferencing, same as our previous Full Council Meeting in March. The meeting is open to the public, but due to security concerns using online video conferencing, we request that any members of the public who would like to participate and join our meeting contact us ahead of time for the meeting invite.

Our contact us page can be found here: https://nysilc.org/contact-us

Please let us know in the message if you need an interpreter and/or captioner during the meeting.

We look forward to having you join us. Thank you!

Our webpage with important links for COVID-19 resources is now available.

You can find it under our resources tab or at this link here: COVID-19 Resources


If you know of other resources we should have linked to our page, feel free to reach out to us via our email contact page at: https://nysilc.org/contact-us

The New York State Independent Living Council, Inc. (NYSILC) has been learning about the coronavirus and taking protective measures.  Here is the council’s response to COVID-19 to date:

  1. NYSILC staff learned about the symptoms and precautions related to the novel virus from links shared by CDC, state health, and Albany county website communications. These links are provided at the bottom of this message.
  1. NYSILC then developed an information and operational plan based in part on this information to address workplace and council practices:
  • Staff are aware of the symptoms, precautions, and what is required as employees.
  • The office ordered and secured sufficient supplies for hand washing and sanitizing the office.  A schedule is set up to sanitize our office space every 72 hours, focusing on the areas that are frequently touched.  The office building (111 Washington Avenue) sends updates about their coronavirus efforts.
  • Staff have the ability to connect to their desktops remotely and will be transitioning to work-at-home in the coming week. They will be able to receive emails and retrieve voice mails.
  • NYSILC has canceled the face-to-face Full Council meeting scheduled for Friday, March 27, 2020 at the Albany Marriott, to be replaced by a shortened business meeting the same day from 10 am to 1 pm via video conference, focusing mainly on the draft SPIL for 2021-2023. Details to follow. NYSILC acquired Zoom as a video conferencing platform.
  1. Regarding upcoming NYSILC meetings and events, the Executive Committee has decided to monitor our future activities on a periodic basis, based on updates about the novel virus. Look for additional communications for clarification.

Please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you have any questions about our plans related to the coronavirus. We will be issuing information about our upcoming video conference council meeting, and will post other necessary items or rescheduling, via our website, Constant Contact, and social media.  

Please be safe as we work together as a community to address this pandemic.

Brad Williams


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