To mark the 26th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Leah Katz-Hernandez, the White House’s first deaf receptionist, has produced a video tour of The White House.
Katz-Hernandez, who first worked at the White House in 2010 as an intern, communicates using American Sign Language as she gives a detailed history of the West Wing. The receptionist is well-versed in interesting historical anecdotes behind the Press room, Roosevelt room, Cabinet room and West Colonnade before ending the tour at the famous Oval Office.
She has a background in politics, having studied government at Gallaudet University in Washington and got her first introduction to the White House as an intern.
Determined to be part of the Obama administration, she travelled to his headquarters in Chicago during the mid-term elections in 2012, and got a job working on his re-election campaign. After Obama won, she was appointed as the First Lady’s press assistant and research associate.
The receptionist has proven herself to be an integral part of White House operations, even earning the nickname “ROTUS” from President Barack Obama and his staff. “I’m POTUS, this is VPOTUS and that’s ROTUS,” President Obama said. “And ROTUS is the first deaf American to hold that job. She is poised, she is talented – and, as she puts it, a lot of her accomplishments may not have been possible without the ADA.”
Watch the tour here.