I have put off commenting on the story of the fake / bad Sign Language Interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. It seemed like the story changed every half day or so, getting stranger and more politically messy at each step. At this point, it seems like there are several intersecting issues of justice, politics, bureaucratic incompetence, and racial politics involved, in addition to the obvious insult to Deaf communities in South Africa and around the world. However, this USA Today article might be a good place for most of us to wrap up our involvement in the story. However it happened, it sure seems like this was a failure to follow some well-established standards and procedures for Sign Language Interpreting, which is a profession, not an art or a charity.
I would only add that in the United States, though the standards are well-established, they are not yet well known, and hospitals, courts, and workplaces too commonly employ “interpreters” who are just as “fake” as that man in Pretoria last week.
Disability life, ideas, identity, culture, commentary, and politics.