A group that advocates for disabled people in New York has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include an American Sign Language interpreter at his daily coronavirus briefings.
The suit, filed on Wednesday in federal court, calls on the governor's office to include an in-frame ASL intrepter in the televised briefings.
“It is inexplicable that during this pandemic, the Governor would choose not to have ASL interpreters at his daily live televised briefings," said Timothy Clune, the executive director of the group Disability Rights New York. "As a result, deaf New Yorkers are unable to obtain vital life and death information at the time they need it most.”
A sign language intrepreter is available on a web stream of the briefing. The briefings, typically held in the ceremonial office of the governor in Albany called the Red Room, has limited space to accomodate social distancing and the dozen or so reporters and government staffers who attend the event in person.
"Governor Cuomo’s briefings cover a wide range of topics including the number ofconfirmed COVID-19 cases, the availability of testing, information about socialdistancing and other personal safety measures to beutilized by New Yorkers to stop thespread of the virus, and the coordination of local,state, and federal governmentemergency response systems," the group said in the lawsuit. "New York is the only state that has never providedtelevised in frame ASL interpretationof its COVID-19 briefings."
Cuomo's briefings are already highly visual affairs, with Cuomo often referring to slides and graphics that convey numbers, trends and ideas for updates of the pandemic in New York.