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The White House press briefings will include an American Sign Language interpreter.

The Biden administration announced this week that it would include an American Sign Language interpreter in its daily press briefings, a step that the previous administration avoided taking until a court ordered it to do so late last year.

The move is a “historical first,” according to Howard A. Rosenblum, the chief executive officer of the National Association of the Deaf.

Past administrations have occasionally had A.S.L. briefers at some White House events and meetings, Mr. Rosenblum said, but President Biden is the first to make it a fixture.

“The president is committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just and more accessible for every American, including Americans with disabilities and their families,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said during Monday’s briefing. She introduced the interpreter as Heather.

Last year, Mr. Rosenblum’s advocacy group and five deaf Americans sued the Trump administration for holding briefings on the coronavirus without a sign language interpreter present, arguing that it was a violation of the First Amendment.

The government responded that it had provided closed-captioning, but the plaintiffs said that was not an adequate substitute. A federal judge in Washington sided with the plaintiffs, and the Trump administration started including an interpreter in November.

During his first few hours in office, Mr. Biden signed an executive order directing senior officials to look at ways to make sure people with disabilities and other minorities were not denied opportunities or government benefits.

Mr. Biden also directed top leaders to break down federal data, including economic indicators, “by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, income, veteran status or other key demographic variables” to measure progress on equity goals. The move was praised by many economists.

Source: THE NEW YORK TIMES

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