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The Presidential Debates: Inaccessible To The Deaf

October 19, 2020

A screenshot of the first debate broadcast. Three ASL interpreters are next to Biden and Trump.'s coverage of the first presidential debate, which featured ASL interpreters for President Trump, Vice President Biden, and the moderator Chris Wallace. SEAN FORBES/DPAN.TV

“If you guys make any of my TikToks viral, pls make it this one – it’s so important.” That was the plea that young Erin Sydney Rosenfeld led off with on her now viral TikTok post as she vented her frustration during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29.

The post got right to the point: “Okay, so I'm really frustrated right now because I'm trying to watch the presidential debate, but there's not an ASL (American Sign Language) interpreter. There's nothing, and it's live TV, so CC (closed captions) or subtitles don't work; they're really delayed. It's not accessible, it's not equal access, and it's not right,” she wrote. “It's really frustrating because I'm finally old enough to vote, and I can't even watch the debate.”

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