The deaf community at Nelson Mendela’s memorial service was shocked by the “fake” sign language interpreter on stage whose signing was repetitive and unintelligible.
Millions of attendees, including President Barack Obama, watched this interpreter as he continued to make many gestures of gibberish. Hundreds of people joined the social media frenzy to express their anger. Several deaf groups confirmed his signing did not reflect the comments being made by the speaker.
Paul Breckell, chief executive of the U.K.-based charity Action on Hearing Loss, said: “We are shocked by the quality of sign language interpretation at Nelson Mandela’s memorial — if it could be called interpretation at all.”
He added, “the limited number of signs, the amount of repetition, lack of facial expressions and huge gaps in translation meant that deaf or hard of hearing people across the world were completely excluded from one of the biggest events in recent history.”
Many people easily recognized that the interpreter’s hand structure, facial expressions, and body movements did not follow what the speaker was saying. In addition to the misinterpretation of sign language at Nelson Mandela’s memorial, the same man was found signing at various African National Congress events.