Thursday, December 12, 2013

A Fake Interpreter? The Deaf Community Left Behind at Mandela Memorial

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?

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Age is More Than a Number

Back in October, I wrote a blog post titled "The Harm in Age Segregation", and in light of a new article I found relating to this topic, I would like to revisit this idea.

I discussed in my previous blog the idea of age segregation beginning with children in schools and also with the elderly in geriatric care centers,  with the focusing on how this is used as a tool by society to find maximum efficiency. Now, I would like to explore more about the repercussions of such a divide. I believe that such process can cause harm to all the people involved, and an article, titled "The Unforeseen Consquences of Age Segregation of Youth",  I found also expresses such danger.

The article states that "[Age segregation] excludes any meaningful exchange of information and ideas between age groups and instead pits them against one another across fabricated social barriers." I though that this phrase captured an interesting viewpoint on the topic. I further broke down the quote to extract its meaning.

The article illustrates a divide when it is stated that age segregation "excludes any meaningful exchange of information and idea between age groups". To me, this quote shows that such divide is placed between differently aged groups of people, which encourages a distance kept between people. The sharing of wisdom, opinions and ideas that have true depth is lost through this kind of isolation. People are shocked when a 30 year old marries  a 70 year old, and I think it's possible that one of the reasons is that we have become so socialized to interject only within our age group, and it is far more infrequent that somebody breaks out of the pattern.

When the article states that age segregation  "pits [people] against one another across fabricated social barriers", it is an interesting view on the relationship between age groups. 
Often in our lives, we hear people refer to  "their generation" as having distinct characteristics unlike any other. 

A relevant question on Yahoo! Answers which shows an example of how some generations identify with certain characteristics or styles. 

This can create an environment of competition instead of collaboration, as some generations are looked down upon. How many times have you heard people say "this generation is doomed", or like phrases. This shows the kind of distrust and disinterest in helping that some generations have for another. I think it's also important to recognize the last part of the quote: "fabricated social barriers". These divides are made of no substance, and can be changed. Therefore, what can be done to break this system?