UPDATED: Best & Worst States for ASL Access to Governors’ COVID-19 Press ...

NAD   August 5, 2022 in ASL

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EDIT: Our ranking data has been updated as of August 3, 2022, please view the report for the most up to date ranking.

Our Policy Institute team has been working very hard on this project where we ranked each state for their access during COVID-19 Press Briefings! Where does your state rank? #COVIDinASL

Read the PR: Link

Read the full report: Link

[VIDEO DESC & TRANSCRIPT: Zainab Alkebsi is standing in the center, with a solid blue wall behind her.

ZAINAB: Guess what?! The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) just released our first ranking called, "Best & Worst States for ASL Access to Governors’ COVID-19 Press Briefings". During the pandemic, each state’s governor hosted COVID-19 press briefings to share important information. It's imperative to provide American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters in these briefings. Although Closed Captions are provided, many deaf and hard of hearing people cannot understand the captioning in English. It is not enough to simply provide an ASL interpreter.

Governor’s offices must plan ahead of time to ensure that we can see the ASL interpreter. NAD, through its Policy Institute, examined how each state handled providing sign language interpreters during these press briefings during March 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020. We looked at whether ASL on whether ASL interpreters were provided and also looking at the clarity and visibility of the interpreters. The result is a ranking of all 50 states on how each of them handled interpreter access during official state government COVID-19 press briefings. There are also two kinds of special recognition with different symbols for each. The “ILY” symbol is used to show which states used deaf interpreters, which is awesome! The number reflecting frequency: one = 25-59%, two = 60-89%, and three = 90-100%. Another special recognition is the star symbol, which was awarded to North Dakota for being the only state to provide an interpreter in person when not using a visual aid and through PIP when visual aids were used. This is a great and smart approach! For this innovative reason, the interpreter was clearly visible at all times. Curious to see the result of the ranking?! Here:

[screen cuts to the report:

1. Arkansas
2. Nevada
3. Maryland (2 ILY icons)
3. Virginia
5. Massachusetts (3 ILY icons)
6. Michigan
7. New Hampshire (3 ILY icons)
8. Hawaii
9. Louisiana
10. Pennsylvania (3 ILY icons)
11. South Carolina
12. Illinois
13. South Dakota
14. Kansas
15. Missouri
16. Maine (3 ILY icons)
17. North Dakota (star)
18. Tennessee
19. Oregon (3 ILY icons)
20. Kentucky
21. Wyoming
22. Washington (3 ILY icons)
23. Iowa
24. Arizona (1 ILY icon)
25. Utah
26. California (1 ILY icon)
27. North Carolina
28. Texas
29. Rhode Island (3 ILY icons)
30. Vermont (1 ILY icon)
31. West Virginia
32. Georgia (2 ILY icons)
33. Indiana
34. Oklahoma (3 ILY icons)
35. Mississippi
36. Delaware
37. Nebraska
38. Ohio (3 ILY icons)
39. Connecticut
40. Alabama
41. Wisconsin (3 ILY icons)
42. Idaho (2 ILY icons)
43. Colorado (2 ILY icons)
44. New Jersey (3 ILY icons)
45. New Mexico (1 ILY icon)
46. Alaska (1 ILY icon)
47. Minnesota (3 ILY icons)
48. New York (3 ILY icons)
49. Montana
50. Florida

The report has further details on how the NAD Policy Institute determined the ranking for each state, the process, and a list of best and terrible practices are provided. The main takeaway from this report is that as a best practice, governors’ offices need to always provide a qualified interpreter for their emergency briefings and ensure full visibility (whether in-person or via PIP) through appropriate placement, sizing, lighting, camera angle, and depth. This requires advance planning by all states’ governors, their staff, and the media team working with the governors’ offices together. Please share this report with your state governor’s office to ensure that they incorporate these best practices.]

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