Charlatan Interpreter Sparks Outrage at Mandela’s Service

Once again, a charlatan “signed language interpreter” has stolen center stage. This happened on international television during the live streaming of Nelson Mandela’s service today. Deaf South Africans viewing the live streaming television feed were cheated of the opportunity to fully participate in the mourning of one of their nation’s greatest leaders, thanks to this unconscionable action.

…during the service, rather than remembering Mandela, many South Africans (and others from around the world) who were either Deaf, or work with Deaf people, were expressing their outrage.

Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, the first deaf woman to be elected to the South African parliament tweeted:

ANC linked interpreter on the stage with dep president of ANC is signing rubbish. He cannot sign. Please get him off

I’m fuming mad, because this happens all too often.

A hearing person with a modicum of signing skill – let alone interpretation skill, which is something else entirely – assures a non-signing hearing person of his competence to interpret for deaf people.  Sometimes this is done via a-friend-of-a-friend; sometimes someone has the chutzpah to offer her services when the opportunity presents itself (this would be the equivalent of ambulance chasing), and sometimes the deaf person’s expertise to vet interpreters is offered and rejected (because, you know, interpreters are fungible).