Coronavirus Updates April 21 2020

The path to restart Vermont

At a press conference on Monday, Health Commissioner Mark Levine, MD, said that as the state continues its work to protect the health of Vermonters, and begins measured steps to restart Vermont’s economy, we will continue to keep our eyes on the growing body of data to inform our decision-making.

Governor Phil Scott and Dr. Levine emphasized that the public’s cooperation and support in following guidance for preventing the spread of germs is both saving lives and essential for Vermont to move toward recovery.

Steps forward will be informed by careful analysis of the growing body of case data and knowledge about the virus itself, as well as measurements of social distancing, mask wearing, and mobility, and ongoing review of how businesses are able to provide a safe environment for employees and customers.

The Vermont Department of Health is focused even more on expanding an aggressive testing strategy and maintaining supplies, as well as sustaining contact tracing capacity to prevent the virus’s spread and keep long-term care facilities as safe as possible.

A new addendum to Gov. Phil Scott’s executive order was announced Friday, April 17:

  • Allows small crews for outside construction or other outdoor trade jobs, and single-worker low- or no-contact professional services
  • Clarifies guidance for retailers to allow additional operations using delivery and curbside service
  • Outlines safety requirements for these entities and others already operating to ensure continued social distancing, hygiene and disinfection

Laura Siegel, secretary of Vermont Association of the Deaf was interviewed via VPR on April 20th at 2:30pm, EST. A transcript will be made available within the week. Stay tuned.

Template Letter Coronavirus

Copy and paste this letter below or your own usage. We have some contact information listed below this letter. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to email VTAD directly by emailing us ( or calling us via VP (802-858-2323).

The Vermont Deaf community watched your announcement on [Date] about
the coronavirus (COVID-19) but were unable to understand it because you failed to do
some or not all of the following: not having American Sign Language (ASL) access
100%, not providing good quality or available captioning and not allowing the interpreter
to be visible for the entire duration of the press conference. Please review best
practices for effective communication at emergency press briefings. Information
shared about this serious disease outbreak must be made accessible at the time of the
release, not afterwards. Failing to make this information available in ASL means that
deaf people are not getting the same important information about health and safety.

We are including a petition with over 375 signatures of angry/concerned Vermonters and
their supporters as well as a file containing video sequences of the concerns we saw
LIVE during the conference. We demand that you provide ASL and captioning to ALL
news and announcements involving COVID-19 messaging. This is not only the right thing
to do but is also required by federal law, pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act
and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Like everyone else, we are concerned about this outbreak but often are the last to know
or have no access. Please include qualified ASL interpreters and captioning in any video
updates about COVID-19.
Thank you,

CSPAN:  or     (202) 737-322 (main office)  or for captioning issues:    or   (p) 765-464-3019

WCAX:    or    802-652-6300

FCC:    or   (844) 432-2275   (ASL direct support line)

FOX 22/44:    or     802-660-9333

Update from the VTAD Board (Transcript under the video)

Transcript –

Hi my name is Elena Shapiro treasurer for VTAD. I want to update everyone on what the VTAD board has been doing. We have done a lot. We met every day and discussed different topics and various approaches on what we should do. We wanted to update everyone on what we have done and what we need your help with.

First we wrote a formal letter. That letter was recommended by NAD. We modified it to fit us better. That letter states that an ASL interpreter is required and that the interpreter remains on the TV screen the entire time. The video should not be zooming in and out and taking the interpreter out of the video. We also stated that we require captioning and that the caption must be the right size, not large and covering half the screen. That was our demand in that letter.

That letter – Laura our secretary did upload on the VTAD Facebook page and on our website. You can see the letter for yourself. That letter has a petition with over 375 signatures. We want to thank everyone for their support in signing the petition. The second item included is the video sequence document. This document was created from different pictures I took during the press conference yesterday. It includes a timeline and covers both WCAX and C-span. WCAX kept zooming the interpreter out of the video. They didn’t show the interpreter fully, and we kept missing the information on the screen. WCAX captioning was in the middle of the screen and it was hard to see the interpreter with the large captioning fonts. It was a frustrating experience. C-span had the interpreter some of the time, zooming in and out but had NO captioning at all.

FOX44 news were awesome. They had the interpreter and captioning on the screen the entire time. VTAD will write a letter thanking them for their support. That letter is available and you can read it for yourself. That letter includes a petition link. That link is not active. We want to preserve privacy for everyone who signed the petition and now broadcast their names and emails. The second link is to the video sequence document. You can see for yourself the pictures that were taken and the comments included.

WCAX showed the video then switched to other news, while C-span ran the video live for the entire conference without switching or leaving to other news. There were some pros and cons with both TV stations.

We sent that letter to the Commissioner Monica Hutt, Governor, WCAX TV, C-Span and the FCC.
WCAX did reach out to us but we have a hard time getting a hold of them. Their voice mail box was full. We have been struggling to get ahold of them, but we did send an email with all the attachments. The letter to the FCC was responded by them quickly asking for more information like the websites that we were watching and what time. So we sent them all the info. The FCC encouraged all the deaf people to send them an email too. The more people that file the complaint, higher the chance that FCC will have a strong case to address those TV stations and Governor’s lack of interpreter availability. This is a requirement for ADA by FCC to ensure that the interpreter is there and captioning is available. We need your help with that.

Now we will post a template “example” of the letter you can use to copy and paste and send emails to those TV stations, Governor’s office and the FCC. We will provide the emails for everyone. If you do not want to email, but prefer to call instead, we will provide a list of phone numbers for them as well.

The VTAD board has email – and a phone number for us. We will post this on the website. If you have concerns, questions, or want to help, feel free to email or call us. We appreciate your help. What we need from you is to send those emails. The more emails you send to the Governor or FCC, or the TV Stations, the higher the chance they will respond. They will be required to respond because many of you filed a complaint. We need your help with that. Lastly, be SAFE. We will all be fine. Thank you.

Letter to media/officials

This letter was sent to various media outlets/important officials to voice our frustrations/concerns about our recent experience with March 25th press conference held by Governor Phil Scott.

We shared the petition with over 375 signatures – Thank you everyone for your support on this.

We also shared the Video sequence that shows WCAX channel 3 had bad captioning, and didnt show the interpreter on screen, as well as C-Span with no captioning.
View the Video sequence HERE