It has been pretty hard to ignore the passing of the nationally beloved South African leader, Nelson Mandela. It's is all over the news and people are mourning worldwide. Many came to South Africa either in person, or made the journey through computer or TV screens to honor this man at his memorial service on Tuesday. On a day of remembrance, one group of people seemed to have been forgotten.
|A screenshot from the current news stories on Yahoo!, all relating to Nelson Mandela.|
The deaf community around the world in infuriated, claiming that the sign language interpreter and translator at the Mandela memorial service was a fake, which made it impossible for these people to understand. As awful and almost unbelievable as this seems, it has happened before, with the same interpreter.
This man, still unnamed, has interpreted at other events, where people claimed that we was completely inaccurate. How could the South American government, who organized the memorial service, let this happen again?
CNN covered this controversy, and in an interview with Bruno Druchen, leader of the Deaf Federation of South Africa, he stated that the failed interpretation was "a total mockery of the language". It seems as though the government could have put in a little more effort and hired a well-respected and knowledgeable interpreter, instead of the man who caused so much upset through his inaccuracies. This act of the government may suggest the marginalization of the deaf community; they were left out of a worldwide event, while the problem was so preventable. The large deaf community may now be seen as unimportant, not even worth the governments time of finding a reliable interpreter. Many people were upset by this situation; reactions include "appalled", "offensive", " and "[an] outrage".
Of course, the South African government is deflecting the blame away from themselves, not accepting responsibility for their actions. This is another way the deaf are marginalized in this situation; nobody is willing to acknowledge that what happened was wrong, accept the blame and apologize.
Is marginalization really what is going on here? Why else would a mistake so preventable be made?