- The sign language interpreter introduced in the White House daily briefing this week is a Trump supporter.
- Heather Mewshaw ran a pro-Trump Facebook group that translated far-right videos into sign language.
- Different sign language interpreters replaced Mewshaw after her initial appearance on Monday.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Joe Biden’s first American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter reportedly is a Trump supporter who runs a Facebook group that provides sign language translations to right-wing videos.
Heather Mewshaw was introduced as “today’s interpreter, Heather” by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during Monday’s press briefing.
However, a day after her appearance, TIME Magazine’s investigation found that Mewshaw manages a group of ASL interpreters that provide translations for videos that embrace right-wing ideals, including some that peddled baseless election claims and vaccine misinformation.
Read more: Biden bucks Trump’s pandemic approach that favored friendlier states and brings Republican governors into the fold
In one video posted on the group, Mewshaw can be seen wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat as she signs to a video of Trump dancing to “YMCA.” The video was titled: “Thank You, President Trump, From the Right Side ASL Team!” according to TIME.
Other translated videos on the page featured a talk by Rudy Giuliani titled: “What Really Happened on January 6th?” and an interview with Dr. Stella Immanuel, a physician and pastor who has touted hydroxychloroquine, the unproven COVID-19 treatment that was favored by Trump.
The page also included false claims about Michelle Obama being transgender, according to TIME.
The Facebook group, called “Right Side ASL,” was deleted in November but later resurfaced under the name “Hands of Liberty ASL.”
Other “Right Side ASL” accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Parler have also been shut down.
A Change.org petition to have Mewshaw removed from the White House has reached more than 4,000 people signatures at the time of writing.
Psaki’s announcement in the White House on Monday that ASL interpreters would be a part of the administration’s daily news briefings was a move welcomed by many.
Howard A. Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, told Insider earlier this week that his organization was grateful to witness history in the making.
“Deaf and hard of hearing Americans deserve the same access to information from the White House and the President that everyone else gets,” Rosenblum said.
The organization sued Trump and former press secretary Kayleigh McEnany in August 2020 for failing to provide an interpreter during COVID-19 briefings. They argued it hindered the ability of deaf and hard of hearing Americans to learn necessary information during the pandemic.
It is not clear whether Hewsahw will reappear again as an interpreter in the White House, but she’s since been replaced by two different ASL translators on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Jon Henner, an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina Greensboro who studies ASL and is deaf, told TIME: “I was honestly surprised. For me, it would be problematic for someone who has aligned herself with alt-right discourses to be the public face of the White House for the deaf communities and people who are curious about ASL.”
Insider reached out to the White House and Mewshaw for comment.
According to her profile on Independent Interpreters, Mewshare holds three certifications from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) and has been working as a professional sign language interpreter since 1999.
“She is comfortable with working in an array of settings and her strengths are in settings such as Federal and state government, medical, conferences, religious services, and highly-technical assignments,” the profile says.
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