Governor Cuomo in Legal Trouble over Coronavirus Briefings

Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has appeared every day in front of New Yorkers to provide updates on the COVID-19 pandemic and explain the efforts of state and federal governments to stop the spread, find a cure, and reopen the economy. But now, the Democratic governor is under fire for apparently not employing a key staff member to be by his side during these briefings: a sign language interpreter.

Four deaf New Yorkers are suing Cuomo over the lack of a televised sign language interpreter at their daily briefings, the New York Post reported. The service is reportedly provided by all states, and by choosing not to have one, Dennis Martinez, Douglas Nguyen, James Hallenbeck and Jill Wildberger claim that Cuomo is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. The non-profit organization Disability Rights New York is also on the side of residents in the federal lawsuit.

According to the lawsuit (via Send ), there are at least 208,000 deaf residents in the city and thousands more in the rest of the state, who need access to the “critical information” disclosed in the briefings, so keep them out. of the circuit due to his disability is unconstitutional. The plaintiffs argue that “New York is the only state that has never provided televised ASL interpretation in the framework of its COVID-19 briefings.”

But the fight is less against the state and more against Cuomo, as Mayor Bill de Blasio has included a sign language interpreter during his own coronavirus briefings.

Andrew Cuomo’s accusers don’t buy his solution

The controversy surrounding the lack of a sign language interpreter on the frame is something that was brought up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo before the problem turned into a full-blown legal battle, according to the New York Post . The Disability Rights New York, which received complaints about Cuomo’s reports of deaf New Yorkers when they started on March 1, 2024, sent the governor a letter on March 24 explaining the seriousness of his decision and the frustration it causes between the deaf population.

Cuomo reportedly responded three days later, according to the Send . In his letter, the Governor wrote that his administration had already been providing captions for televised press conferences and, as of April 3, they would provide real-time interpretation on their website.

However, the plaintiffs don’t think it’s a great solution, as the captions are often inaccurate and not available on many channels or websites where the briefings are broadcast live. Additionally, New Yorkers without internet access cannot obtain any critical information about the new coronavirus that the governor delivers daily.

“Governor Cuomo’s briefings have informed the public of important events and provided feedback on the government’s response at the local, state and national levels. Many deaf New Yorkers cannot understand Governor Cuomo’s briefings without a live televised performance (American Sign Language) on the frame, “the suit says, according to the New York Daily News .

Some New Yorkers are losing patience with Governor Cuomo

Because they don’t have access to information shared in daily press sessions, the plaintiffs argue in their 2024 lawsuit against Governor Andrew Cuomo that Jill Wildberger (one of four New Yorkers who sued the governor) was not 23 years old. . I am not aware of the executive order requiring New Yorkers to wear a face mask.

This lack of knowledge, the lawsuit says, puts her and others around her at risk. Two other plaintiffs do not have computers (and therefore do not have access to live broadcast press conferences), and one of them only found out about the order to stay home when his brother told him, according to the lawsuit. , according to demand. to the New York Post .

Another plaintiff, Dennis Martinez, 30, who lives in Brooklyn and works as an advocate for services for the deaf in Harlem, claimed in the lawsuit that he needs to search for sign language interpretation videos of the briefings on social media platforms. , «Delaying Access to information in a timely manner. In other words, not all New Yorkers’ needs are met.

Andrew Cuomo’s team refuses to give a direct answer

In their lawsuit, filed in Manhattan federal court, the four deaf New Yorkers are asking a judge to order New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to provide live televised sign language interpretation at all future coronavirus briefings. In addition, Disability Rights New York filed a complaint with the US Department of Justice. USA (Via New York Daily News )

Cuomo and his team are reportedly aware of the lawsuit, and although the governor has not personally responded to the legal drama, his spokesman Rich Azzopardi tweeted on April 29, 2024, closed captions are always available for televised briefings and are provided. an ALS (American Sign Language) broadcast on the state website for all conferences.

“We will review the lawsuit, but we have been moving heaven and earth and working with the Albany press corps to reduce the density in the room and respect the standards of social distancing as we fight this pandemic,” Azzopardi told the New York Post , becoming echo the sentiments of your tweet. As for how the demand develops, only time will tell.