ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan, in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (GODHH), today announced that Maryland received a top national ranking for American Sign Language (ASL) access to official state government COVID-19 press briefings. According to a recent study from the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), Maryland ranked #3 out of all 50 U.S. states for interpreter clarity and visibility and received laudable recognition for the frequency of using Deaf interpreters.

“Maryland is proud to be recognized as one of the top states in the nation for ensuring American Sign Language access to information during such a critical time,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to promoting equal and full access to information and resources for every Marylander.”

According to its website, NAD, through its Policy Institute, conducted a study to assess how each state handled the provision of sign language interpreters during 2020 official state government COVID-19 press briefings. The study evaluated the clarity and visibility of interpreters, ranking all 50 states with respect to how each handled interpreter access from 1 (representing the most accessible) to 50 (representing the least accessible). States also received between 0 to 3 “?” (“I love you” in ASL) symbols based on the frequency of using Deaf interpreters.

From March 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020, NAD measured the percentage of how many of each state’s briefings featured ASL interpreters and assessed interpreter visibility during broadcasts using standardized scoring metrics. Maryland achieved a third place ranking, including three “?” symbols. NAD also recognized Maryland as having gone “above and beyond” best practices by offering recap summaries of briefings in ASL.

Throughout the pandemic, GODHH coordinated interpreters for Governor Hogan’s press conferences, in addition to providing follow-up summary videos in ASL and graphics on their social media channels. ODHH also ensured captioning was available across all platforms and built a COVID-19 digital resource warehouse to help address constituent concerns about COVID-19.

“Ensuring visibility and clarity among our qualified ASL interpreters and resources helps ensure that complex, urgent information is shared with everyone in an accurate and timely manner,” said GODHH Director Kelby Brick. “We are honored to receive such high praise for our effort and remain committed to ensuring that every Marylander has access to critical information.”

Health Signs Center previously recognized Maryland as a leader in equitable access for the Deaf and hard of hearing, revealing strengths in Maryland’s performance across nearly all categories of COVID-19 information access including interpreting and captioning access at press conferences, trustworthiness in American Sign Language-translated online information, the provision of qualified Deaf interpreters, and the state’s inclusivity of the Deaf in emergency preparedness.

For more information about the Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, visit odhh.maryland.gov.


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