An amateur interpreter for the deaf was tapped at the last minute to provide sign language during a press conference — and things got out of hand.
Before Hurricane Irma ripped through Florida, Manatee County leaders were preparing to address the public with “crucial” information.
That’s when, “in a pinch,” they called Marshall Greene to communicate using sign language, according to WFLA.
Greene, a lifeguard for the county, veered off course when he began signing words like “pizza,” “bear,” and “monster,” among others — words that had nothing to do with the press conference.
“I knew something went horribly wrong,” Charlene McCarthy told WFLA. McCarthy owns VisCom, a company that regularly provides interpreters for the county.
“It was horribly unnerving for me to watch that, knowing I could provide a qualified, certified interpreter,” she fumed.
Greene’s family told WFLA he was just doing what the county asked of him.
“He can’t expect to communicate something he doesn’t know,” Greene’s father told the station.
Social media users were outraged, writing that the bogus interpreter posed a “danger” to society.
“Who is this person you are using as a sign language interpreter? This person is not qualified!” Sandra Roche commented on the county’s video of the press conference.
“What a disservice to the deaf community at such a critical time,” Maggie Gregory wrote.
Others weren’t as quick to be angry: “Take it easy on the guy!” Becky Bates-Williams fired back. “I’ve been in his position and it is frightening… He is doing the best he can.”
The makeshift interpreter also should have been facing forward, instead of looking at the speaker.
“It was obvious to me he wasn’t a professional interpreter. I was totally shocked,” Chris Wagner, former president of the National Association of the Deaf, told WFLA.
The deaf community is demanding an apology from the county for the blunder, according to WFLA.
Source: NY Post