Make Media Briefings Accessible

  • March 16, 2020

Statement of Request:

Make COVID-19 Media Briefings Accessible for Individuals who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing receive information differently than hearing people.  While some individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing may be able to read English, others may not. For example, they may communicate exclusively in American Sign Language (ASL). It is critical for public health and safety information to be disseminated in a manner deaf and hard of people can understand through the use of open or closed-captioning and qualified ASL interpreters.

As Tennessee continues to prepare for the COVID-19 outbreak, health departments, state and local agencies, and other entities are disseminating information via televised briefings about this evolving public-health situation. It is paramount that this information reach and be understood by as many people as possible, including individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. Furthermore, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that information disseminated by local and state government entities be accessible to people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

With this in mind, Disability Rights Tennessee recommends that ALL televised press conferences and media briefings have the following:

  • Open or closed-captioning, and 
  • A qualified, on-site American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter close to the speaker and always in the camera shot so that he or she will be in the view of the public.

You can request a qualified sign language interpreter by contacting one of the agencies listed below or through the Registered Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) website. We recommend that you contact the agency to secure a qualified interpreter as soon as you begin planning for your televised briefing.



Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf

Tennessee Centers for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 



East Tennessee 

Visual Communication Interpreting

Knoxville Center for the Deaf

Partnership for Families, Children, & Adults


Middle Tennessee

Bridges for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Gate Communications


West Tennessee

Bridges West

Deaf Connect


Thank you for helping make COVID-19 media briefings accessible for all Tennesseans. ‚Äč

Should you need any further information about making your programs or services accessible to people with disabilities, please contact Disability Rights Tennessee attorney Stacie L. Price at staciep@disabilityrightstn.orgor 615.732.6982.

Disability Rights Tennessee (DRT) is a nonprofit legal services organization that provides free legal advocacy services to protect the rights of Tennesseans with disabilities.

Middle Tennessee (Admin Office)

2 International Plaza, Suite 825
Nashville, TN 37217

Phone: 615-298-1080
Fax: 615-298-2046

East Tennessee

9050 Executive Park Drive, Suite 101-B
Knoxville, TN 37923

Phone: 865-670-2944
Fax: 865-470-7028

West Tennessee

1407 Union Avenue, Suite 1015
Memphis, TN 38104

Phone: 901-458-6013
Fax: 901-249-2933