A sign-language interpreter who was dumped by the Biden White House after being outed as a Trump supporter says she has been ‘canceled and humiliated’ for her political views.
Heather Mewshaw, a freelancer ASL interpreter who appeared at a White House press briefing last month, revealed she has not been asked back since it was revealed that she has translated far-right videos into sign language.
‘I was canceled and humiliated publicly and it was unjust and unfair,’ Mewshaw said as she spoke out on the controversy for the first time.
She further claimed that critics are trying to shut deaf people out of political debates by shutting down interpreters making content available to them.
Heather Mewshaw has blasted critics for ‘canceling’ her, revealing that she has not been invited back to the White House as an ASL interpreter since being outed as a Trump supporter
‘The goal of my activity… is all about access,’ she told the New York Post. ‘Deaf people just want a chance to decide for themselves what information is out there.’
Mewshaw is a self-confessed Trump supporter who worked for the previous White House translating media briefings between November and December last year.
She then appeared at a briefing by Biden spokesman Jen Psaski on January 25, at which she announced an ASL interpreter would cover every future briefing.
Just two days later, Time magazine published an article outing Mewshaw for her political views – and noting that she runs a group of interpreters who translate far-right content into ASL.
The group used to be called Right Side ASL but changed its name to Hands of Liberty after Facebook shut their old page down for violating its rules.
Among the videos that Mewshaw and her team have interpreted are ones by Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal lawyer, entitled What Really Happened On January 6th? – referencing the storming of the Capitol Building on January 6.
Another featured Stella Immanuel, a doctor who touted hydroxychloroquine as a cure for Covid and was once promoted by Trump before it emerged that she also believes alien DNA is being used in medical experiments, and that vaccines were being made to stop people being religious.
But Mewshaw insisted she does not endorse the content she interprets and is merely providing ‘a service’, whether for those on the left or right of the political spectrum.
Critics, Mewshaw insisted, ‘don’t want this content to be interpreted because they don’t believe in it.’
Mewshaw, bottom right, was introduced Monday by White House press secretary Jen Psaki, main, after the new president’s administration announced it would be adding a sign language interpreter to its daily press briefings
Mewshaw’s critics had created a petition after the Time magazine expose was published calling for her to be sacked, which gathered some 8,000 signatures.
The National Association of the Deaf also warned at the time that all ASL interpreters should be properly vetted before translating at an event.
‘Care must be taken by everyone who hires an ASL interpreter to ensure that they are properly vetted for any interpreting job, whether it is a medical appointment, a job interview, a court proceeding, or a White House press briefing,’ a spokesman said.
They added that they were glad to witness ‘history in the making’ with Psaki’s announcement that ASL interpreters would attend every press event.
Psaki had said of her inclusion, President Biden ‘is committed to building an America that is more inclusive, more just and more accessible for every American, including Americans with disabilities and their families.’
A petition has been started to have Mewshaw removed from her role
Mewshaw manages the Hands of Liberty Facebook page. The group had been called Right Side ASL before it was deleted by Facebook, Time magazine reports
Mewshaw as also been pictured in a MAGA hat and signing to videos that include vaccine misinformation and false claims about the 2020 election and the Capitol riots
She introduced by Psaki as ‘today’s interpreter Heather’. By Tuesday a different woman was being used by the White House. On Wednesday a third interpreter was seen in footage.
The move to include an interpreter marks a shift from the Trump administration, which had only sporadic press briefings and didn’t include one until late in the former president’s term.
Last August, the National Association of the Deaf joined five deaf individuals in suing Trump and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, charging the failure to provide an interpreter undermined the ability of deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans to access key information about the coronavirus pandemic.
The next month, a federal judge ordered the White House to include American Sign Language interpretation at all televised briefings on the virus.
The ruling said the interpreter could be in the frame physically near the speaker or off-site. It said the White House was required to make the interpreter feeds accessible online and on television using a picture-in-picture format.