Knoxville deaf community outraged by Mandela faked signing

Knoxville deaf community outraged by faked signing at Mandela memorial

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For those outside the deaf community, it might appear that interpreter was doing his job, but for actual interpreters, it became immediately clear that something wasn't right. For those outside the deaf community, it might appear that interpreter was doing his job, but for actual interpreters, it became immediately clear that something wasn't right.
"As soon as I saw the video it looked like just gestures, random gestures, and a few gestures repeated over and over, even when the message from the speaker was different," said Marie Griffin of the Tennessee School for the Deaf. "As soon as I saw the video it looked like just gestures, random gestures, and a few gestures repeated over and over, even when the message from the speaker was different," said Marie Griffin of the Tennessee School for the Deaf.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Allegations surfaced early Wednesday that the sign language interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service was a fake.

For those outside the deaf community, it might appear that interpreter was doing his job, but for actual interpreters, it became immediately clear that something wasn't right.

"As soon as I saw the video it looked like just gestures, random gestures, and a few gestures repeated over and over, even when the message from the speaker was different," said Marie Griffin of the Tennessee School for the Deaf.

Griffin has interpreted for three sitting presidents. She says watching the man pretend to sign is offensive.

"I'm also angry on behalf of deaf people that they were making it accessible for you so you can participate in this momentous occasion and they can't," said Griffin.

The Deaf Federation of South America said the unidentified interpreter was not a recognized professional nor was he known to the deaf community in the country. Griffin says it's clear he did not know what he's doing.

"There was absolutely no facial expression and that's such a key part of sign language interpreting and it just did not look like language to me at all," said Griffin.

Griffin has attended many international events and says even when you don't know the language you can recognize the rhythm, but this man's movement's were essentially gibberish.

"It didn't even look like natural gestures to me and certainly not a language," said Griffin. "It feels like an insult to my profession."

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