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  • >> Rosemary Church: ... And we want to talk more about the sign-language interpreter

  • at Nelson Mandela's memorial on Tuesday.

  • We're joined by Laura Peterson and Julie Rems-Smario in Fremont, California,

  • They work at the California School for the Deaf, as we mentioned,

  • and Julie herself is deaf and will be communicating through an interpreter

  • who is off-camera here.

  • Thank you for joining us.

  • Laura, I do want to start with you and get your reaction

  • to this sign-language interpreter: what did you think?

  • >> Laura Peterson: Um, well, when I first heard about it, actually from Julie,

  • I thought "OK, then maybe they weren't qualified,"

  • So I thought, in order to explain this here,

  • I really wanted to provide access to everybody in your audience

  • and so, because I understand that there is no captioning,

  • so Julie is interpreting,

  • so that everybody in the audience can have access.

  • So I just wanted to clarify that,

  • because people are maybe not understanding

  • why Julie is signing right now.

  • So, when I first read about it, I thought:

  • "OK, maybe it was somebody who just wasn't very good."

  • But when I actually saw the video, it was really clear that they were --

  • did not have the semantics, the hand shapes,

  • the normal attributes of any sign language.

  • I don't know South African Sign Language,

  • but there are things that are uniform in all sign languages.

  • >> Church: And it is worth mentioning that there isn't an International Sign Language,

  • which is there,

  • I mean there are different Sign Languages in each country.

  • But Julie, I do want to go to you:

  • Are you outraged? What do you want to see happen here?

  • >> Julie Rems-Smario: Well, really, I am upset,

  • because really, that shows a lack of respect

  • for human rights of language equality.

  • That was destroyed at this event

  • and Nelson Mandela represented human rights

  • and he's an icon and an African.

  • And this person exploited that on a very important day

  • to honor Nelson Mandela

  • and he also violated our human rights as deaf people

  • by showing exactly what, you know,

  • language apartheid looks like.

  • >> Church: And Laura, as we saw in the story that Errol Barnett brought us

  • just before the break,

  • this man, this interpreter, he has been in trouble before,

  • but there have been no consequences.

  • How does somebody -- as far as I was concerned --

  • he had credentials to do this.

  • How does somebody end up on the stage

  • next to all of those dignitaries

  • in such an important, historic day,

  • for not just South Africa, but indeed the world?

  • How does someone get through to that point

  • when they've been in trouble before?

  • >> Peterson: Right, so your question is

  • how does he end up on the stage.

  • Um, it's not, unfortunately, it's not that unusual.

  • It happens not just in South Africa,

  • it happens around the world,

  • it happens in classrooms here in California.

  • This -- oftentimes the situation is,

  • the person who is doing the hiring doesn't know the language.

  • And so, if the person says they are fluent in that language,

  • they take them, you know, just by their word.

  • Here in the United States,

  • we have the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf,

  • there's a whole certification process

  • and a code of ethics and professional conduct,

  • so we try to avoid that.

  • However, that doesn't mean that people don't hire

  • people who don't have those qualifications,

  • they don't include deaf people in that hiring process

  • so that somebody who knows the language can actually ascertain

  • whether they do have that fluency.

  • >> Church: And presumably, money is the motivator here.

  • But of course, across the world,

  • many deaf children struggle to get a proper education

  • and that's the big point here.

  • And Human Rights Watch has a campaign dedicated

  • to help raise awareness about SIgn Language education

  • in places throughout Africa, and indeed the rest of the world.

  • I want to just watch a portion of the video if we can bring that up:

  • >> Teacher: My name? Good!

  • Yours? Hey! Anne, Anne, good!

  • My name.

  • [Girl signs her name]

  • >> Teacher: Good good good! Yours?

  • Your name? Ah ah, you are not Anne.

  • My name? Who? Yours, yours, yours.

  • >> Boy: Yours, yours, yours.

  • >> Teacher: Mmm, What is her name?

  • [Girl signs]

  • >> Teacher:Yeah, beautiful.

  • She's very good in taking in the sign language.

  • It's very important to have because

  • she can now be communicating to other people.

  • While she was at home

  • there was no sign language being taught there.

  • >> Church: And Julie and Laura, of course advocates say,

  • one of the biggest problems

  • is the lack of Sign Language schools and instructors.

  • And of course that portion of that video, I mean,

  • really does bring it home, doesn't it,

  • the importance of educating these children who,

  • for some -- sometimes, it's not until they're 6 years of age

  • that they have access to this sort of education.

  • So how concerned are you that this fake interpreter's actions

  • could have a negative impact on this initiative?

  • >> Rems-Smario: Well, I'm very concerned

  • about the lack of acceptance of deaf people, deaf leaders,

  • and the input from the community,

  • because we're the experts,

  • and many schools don't hire the deaf people who know the community,

  • who know the language,

  • who know our human right to Sign Language.

  • We have a national and international epidemic

  • of deaf children who have language deprivation.

  • They grow up without full access, full competency in any language,

  • which means they struggle academically, socially, emotionally

  • and it's really a travesty.

  • >> Church: If there's one good point,

  • perhaps this incident has brought attention to that.

  • We will see of course.

  • Laura Peterson and Julie Rems-Smario,

  • thank you so much for joining us

  • and bringing attention to this incident.

  • We appreciate it.

>> Rosemary Church: ... And we want to talk more about the sign-language interpreter

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    Halu Hsieh posted on 2013/12/18
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