Local News

Dec 12, 2013 1:43 PM by Rachel Cole - rcole@kristv.com

Deaf Community Disappointed in Mandela's Interpreter

CORPUS CHRISTI - The man who signed during Tuesday's memorial service for Nelson Mandela is being called a "fake" by those in the deaf community. People at the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center on both sides of the issue, say the overall situation was frustrating to say the least.

Alma Pizarro-Gould is hearing impaired. She says as a viewer watching the interpreter at the former South African President's memorial service was difficult to understand.

"The way he was signing was just very nervous and very off the point it just didn't make any sense. It's not making sense but I wasn't sure because I didn't know if he was using another country's sign language," Alma said.

Even though signing varies between countries, Alma says people that are deaf or hearing impaired can still pick up the message.

"It didn't matter if I'm not from that country we can understand some of the comparative signs," she added.

On the flip side, Angelica Tijerina, a local interpreter for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center, says it can be stressful on stage, trying to convey a message to so many people.

"It is very frustrating and it can get overwhelming at times. You have to just learn to try and block it out," Tijerina said.

However, the interpreter for the ceremony claimed he had a medical issue and could have been hallucinating. Alma says for an assignment this important to the world, the man should have respectfully declined.

"He should have said it's just better for me not to accept that assignment and get somebody else that could do that situation and that assignment," Alma added.

According to reports, a spokesman for the African National Congress said they did not hire him for the event. They said quote: "We have used him on some occasions but yesterday was not an ANC event so we cannot answer for yesterday."

Alma says she hopes this is a lesson to all interpreters that a large population relies on accurate signing to communicate with the rest of the world.

A spokesman for the South African President said the government is checking into the reports regarding the issue.

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