Advocates for the hearing impared and deaf are calling the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service a “fake.”
Why have a sign language interpreter at an event if he doesn’t actually know sign language? It’s the kind of question someone with common sense might just ask if given the chance.
Apparently, no one with common sense attended the planning for Nelson Mandela’s funeral if advocates for the hearing impaired and deaf are right about their claims. They say that the man who gestured in what appears to be sign language during remarks by President Obama and others wasn’t signing at all. He was offering, instead, the sign language equivalent of gibberish.
“He was moving his hands, but there was no meaning.”
That’s what Bruno Druchen, the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa, told ABC News:
“[He] was moving his hands around but there was no meaing in what he used his hands for.”
Let’s think about this for a second.
Maybe he wasn’t using sign language and maybe he wasn’t even attempting to use true sign language in any standardized form.
Perhaps his intent, and that of the people who put him there, was something more along the lines of interpretive dance. Such interpretation is an art form unto itself. But it doesn’t follow strict adherence to any specific language, even if elements of it may appear to be sign language to someone who either isn’t trained in it or in need of it.
If that was the idea, they certainly did it the wrong way by making it appear to be sign language without letting anyone know that it wasn’t.
But it can’t honestly be said that there was “no meaning” in what he used his hands for.
If the idea was that this guy was supposed to use true sign language and just didn’t know it, well, yeah. That’s a problem on multiple levels.