Deaf community demands apology after interpreter botches pre-Irma press conference signing gibberish

Hilarity ensued when an amateur interpreter for the deaf tried to work a press pre-Hurricane Irma press conference “in a pinch” and started signing words like “monster,” “bear,” and “pizza” instead of, well, the actual words that were being spoken.

Others didn’t find it quite so humorous.

In fairness to all angles, it’s probably one of those things that we can laugh about AFTER making sure nobody got their wires crossed enough to actually get hurt.

While getting ready to prep the public with “crucial” information leading up to Hurricane Irma’s impending arrival, Manatee County leaders found themselves without a deaf interpreter. That’s when they turned to county lifeguard Marshall Greene, who has some experience in sign language from communicating with his brother, who is deaf. Greene decided to give the whole thing the old college try even though he is, shall we say, less than fluent in sign.

When Greene was on camera signing the wrong words, Charlene McCarthy, who owns a company called VisCom that provides interpreters for the county, told WFLA, “I know something went horribly wrong.”

“It was horribly unnerving for me to watch that, knowing I could provide a qualified, certified interpreter,” McCarthy said, obviously frustrated that her company wasn’t called in.

“It was obvious to me he wasn’t a professional interpreter. I was totally shocked,” said Chris Wagner, who is a former president of the National Association of the Deaf.

Two big no-no’s that were mentioned was Green’s yellow shirt instead of black, which takes away from visually being able to see the hand movements, and the fact that he was looking at the speaker instead of facing forward.

Greene’s father told WFLA that his son was doing the best he could under the circumstances, saying, “He can’t expect to communicate something he doesn’t know.”

However, angry social media users called Green a “danger” to society, among other things.

On the county’s video, Sandra Roche commented, “Who is this person you are using as a sign language interpreter? This person is not qualified!”

Some were more understanding.

“Take it easy on the guy!” wrote Becky Bates-Williams. “I’ve been in his position and it is frightening… He is doing the best he can.”

WFLA reports that the deaf community is insisting on an apology from the county.

We’ll end with Jimmy Kimmel’s coverage of this sign-language gaffe classic from Nelson Mandela’s funeral:

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of BizPac Review.

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Scott Morefield

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