Bay area deaf advocate: Mandela interpreter not using sign langu - WFLA News Channel 8

Bay area deaf advocate: Mandela interpreter not using sign language

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Millions around the world watched as people remembered Nelson Mandela.  By every speaker's side stood a man whose duty was to interpret what was said for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Except there was one problem: he wasn't using any sign language anybody knows.

"No. Definitely not. Definitely not. And you could see there were the same signs repeated over and over and over and over," said Chris Wagner, President of the National Association of the Deaf.

Wagner watched the speeches and wondered how a guy nobody knows in the South African deaf community could possibly get the job signing for the Mandela event.

Related content: Interpreter for deaf at Mandela event called 'fake'

"I think it's appalling. I was appalled by what I saw.  Especially for a world-wide event, it's appalling and I feel insulted. And I think a lot of deaf and hard of hearing people across the world feel that way," said Wagner.

Sign interpreters in South Africa say the man waved his hands around most of the time, and didn't use the common sign for Madiba, which is what locals call Mandela.

Related content: Mourners in South Africa flock to Mandela memorial

"He did not use that sign. He did not use the sign for Obama, he did not use the sign for Zuma. Those are just some of the most glaring, glaring mistakes," said sign interpreter Delphin Hlugwane.

In Clearwater, Chris Wagner says the deaf and hard of hearing missed out on an important event.

"Us as Americans, we're very concerned because it could happen here. My biggest concern is the vetting. Who did the vetting of this individual?" he asked.

Wagner's organization is assisting in the investigation to see how this apparent fake managed to fool so many people.

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