Published: Sun, September 17, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Sign language interpreter accused of signing gibberish during Irma conference

Sign language interpreter accused of signing gibberish during Irma conference

McCarthy told BuzzFeed News that when she spoke to emergency officials, she also offered to provide an interpreter to the county so the deaf community there could also stay informed during broadcast briefings during Hurricane Irma.

A sign language interpreter has been accused of being a phony after taking the stage during a Hurricane Irma news conference. "It was obvious to me that he wasn't in a professional interpreter right off the bat, and then when he started signing, I was totally shocked", he said.

County spokesman Nick Azzara told The Bradenton Herald that Greene has a brother who is deaf, and that he was asked to sign rather than have no one sign at all.

While residents of Manatee County, Florida, waited for information about evacuation plans and shelters on September 8, a man in a yellow polo and red shorts, standing alongside emergency management officials, was instead signing about pizza, dogs, cats, bears, and monsters.

She was shocked when she saw the press conference on television.

The former president of the National Association of the Deaf, Chris Wagner, who has previously worked in Manatee County, said the debacle was an insult to the deaf community.

Marshall Greene wore a bright yellow shirt when professional interpreters usually wear blue or black so their hands stand out
Marshall Greene wore a bright yellow shirt when professional interpreters usually wear blue or black so their hands stand out

Charlene McCarthy, the founder of VisCom sign language interpretation service agency, said she wished the county would have called her.

"I knew something went horribly wrong", she said.

Azzara told the paper that the county has requested an interpreter and public information assistance from the state of Florida. Also, Greene kept turning his head and looking at the person talking at the podium.

Experts and activists have demanded an apology over Florida officials' decision to use the amateur interpreter. His father explained that Marshall was asked by his bosses to help out during the press conference, and that's exactly what he did.

Members of the local deaf community have demanded an apology from Manatee County, saying the error was risky and put lives at risk.

"He can't expect to communicate something he doesn't know".

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