Update, 8/16/2020: The White House responded to the NAD’s lawsuit last week on Friday. Click here to read more. Our article below, including the live video interview, is not and should not be interpreted as a way to give any legal advice at all. It is only an assessment of the information we had at the time.
As discussed in the Facebook live video interview with Robert Cooper (the Kansas Commissioner for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing) and Chris Haulmark, a political activist in Kansas: the National Association of the Deaf [NAD], along with five Deaf Americans, filed a lawsuit against the Trump Administration and others, on August 3, 2020, with the District Court for the District of Columbia. The lawsuit is a formal complaint about the lack of accessibility at the White House briefings about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the briefings have been occurring since March 2020.
The NAD reached out to Ms. Grisham, the White House’s Director of Communications, on March 18, 2020 with their request that “all public briefings regarding the coronavirus pandemic by President Donald Trump or the White House Coronavirus Task Force is fully accessible to all deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States” (NAD Letter to White House). NAD’s letter went on to explain that there needs to be a qualified American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter present and visible on the broadcast screen.
During the interview, Haulmark clarifies that the NAD’s lawsuit cited two separate complaints and submitted a request. First, the Trump Administration violated Section 504 of the 1974 Rehabilitation Act. Second, the Trump Administration also violated the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The request was for the judge to issue a writ of mandamus, a legal order to compel the Trump Administration to follow through with their duties for accessibility, if the judge was in agreement with the NAD.
As of August 5, 2020, there was a virtual hearing scheduled for later this month on the 26th at 11:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST). The District Court ordered the Defendants’ Opposition to be submitted by August 13, 2020, and the Plaintiffs’ Response to be submitted by August 19, 2020 (PacerMonitor). To read the initial filing, click here and a PDF file will open.