President Joe Biden's White House communications team has hired a new sign language interpreter who reportedly runs a pro-Trump Facebook page and shares right wing videos claiming fraud in the US presidential election. Heather Mewshaw was introduced by White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday after the Biden administration announced that it would add an American sign language interpreter to its daily briefings.
However, it turns out that Heather also manages a group of ASL interpreters who provide sign language accompaniments to right-wing videos. According to a Time magazine report, several of these videos have featured vaccine misinformation, conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and the January 6 riot at the Capitol, and false claims about Michelle Obama being transgender.
Mewshaw has also been pictured in a MAGA hat and singing to videos that include vaccine misinformation and false claims about the 2020 election and the Capitol riots. The video where she is dancing to the song 'YMCA' was titled "Thank You President Trump From the Right Side ASL Team!"
It has also been revealed that Mewshaw manages a Facebook group named 'Right Side ASL'. Interestingly, its account was deleted in early November but reappeared with under a new name 'Hands of Liberty ASL.' A November 17 post from that account reads, "Sad News: Our Facebook Page, Right Side ASL Backup, has been flagged for violating community standards and will be taken down at any time. It's up to Facebook to decide. Not us," according to the Time report.
All for Trump
That message, which featured a video of Mewshaw using ASL, also said Right Side ASL was closing its accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Parler. Needless to say, Mewshaw is an avid Trump support and her posts and videos support the fact.
In fact, she also reportedly supplied ASL translation for a video featuring former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani titled 'What Really Happened On January 6th?' — the day of the Capitol riots. That said, there has already been quite a few voices that are now calling for removal of Mewshaw from the post.
Mewshaw is the daughter of a deaf adult and has been working as a professional sign language interpreter since 1999. Her profile on Independent Interpreters website reads: "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."
Jon Henner, an assistant professor, 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."
A petition to have Mewshaw removed from her role has since gathered more than 800 signatures. Mewshaw's inclusion in the White House communications team marks a shift from the Trump administration, which had only sporadic press briefings and didn't include an ASL interpreter until late in the former president's term.