(NBC) Deaf people watching the Nelson Mandela memorial were bemused and shocked by a “fake” sign language interpreter on stage whose gestures were unintelligible, activists said Wednesday.
Hundreds of people took to social media to express their anger at the interpreter’s gestures, and several deaf groups confirmed his signing did not reflect the comments being made to honor the anti-apartheid icon.
He added that “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.”
David Buxton, chief executive of the British Deaf Association, said in an email that “the gentleman is a total fake.”
Buxton called on the South African authorities to “name and shame that gentleman.” He said the same interpreter had provided sign language for South African President Jacob Zuma’s speech at a military event last year.