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Interpreter at Mandela memorial 'fake'

Posted on 11/12/2013

Sign language across the world shares a similar structure and there are claims that this man was just making 'childish' hand gestures

Deputy ANC leader and fake interpreter on stage at Nelson Mandela's memorial

Following Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Soweta, the international deaf community is in uproar - with many accusing the sign-language interpreter, who appeared on stage, as a ‘fake’.

Questions were asked after Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, the first deaf woman to be elected to the South African Parliament tweeted "ANC-linked interpreter on the stage with dep president of ANC is signing rubbish. He cannot sign. Please get him off."

The Deaf Federation of South Africa has said the interpreter "was moving his hands around but there was no meaning in what he used his hands for."

The service, which was attended by world leaders, celebrities, thousands of South Africans and watched live by millions around the world, was celebrating the life of a man who was a great advocate for those with disabilities and a proud hearing-aid wearer.

Our response

Paul Breckell, our Chief Executive, commented:

“As the largest charity in the UK working with deaf people, we are shocked by the quality of sign language interpretation at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial - if it could be called interpretation at all. The use of appropriately qualified communication support is crucial to ensure that deaf people can engage with and access the same opportunities as hearing people.

"Sign Language, be it British, International or South African, is a visual and expressive language yet 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.”

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For more information

For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Amy Waddell:

Tel: 020 7296 8137 or 07944 038635
Twitter: @hearinglosspr

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