If you have been following the news recently, there has been circulating story about sign language interpreter who interpreted for New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg during his news brief about Hurricane Sandy. Some news media have focused their attention on the interpreter and her facial expression during her interpretation which i think is not good for professional interpreters and sign language users. .
The news media are making fun of how sign language facial expression can be amusing and how it can redirect the attention from the main speaker to the interpreter. Instead of thinking about the importance of this language, New York times writes about the interpreter Lydia, “With her smartly coiffed short dark hair and sharp suits, she literally throws her whole body into signing, from her head to her hands to her hips”. While this statement may sound as praising for some people, I feel that is disrespectful to the interpreter. They did not have to talk about her look or her body. Nicole Steinberger an interpreter at Rochester Institute of Technology(RIT) who is also women’s senator at RIT student government says,“ While I think the world should have a better understanding of sign language, interpreting, and Deaf culture, I do not think it should be at the expense of an interpreter's self worth. Our work is our work, it's not about our hips or hair, and when the media takes it to that level, the real message is completely lost”. I just hate how these media would do anything to make money.
Daniel Maffic, sign language instructor at National Technical institute for the Deaf at Rochester Institute of Technology says ““For people who do know me but are unfamiliar with the work that we ASL/English interpreters do, please know that it takes a lot of time and training to do what we do” He further added “ I am disappointed with America's response to the "Hurricane Sandy interpreter". The work of an interpreter takes a lot of training mentally and physically. It has never been easy for interpreters to deliver messages in sign language where interpreters have to listen and sign at the same time.
Sign language is a beautiful language that deaf people use. I am glad that our beautiful sign language is getting an attention, however, at same time, I disagree with how some media are making it as an amusing language instead of showing it as very effective and wonderful language. I am very impressed with Lydia’s skills, and how she was able to deliver the message to Deaf people in a perfect way. I am sure it was not easy for her to interpreter in such difficult times.. Kudos sign language interpreters!