Sign language experts react to alleged phony at Mandela memorial - WNEM TV 5

Valley sign language experts react to alleged phony at Mandela memorial

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As the world grieves the loss of South African leader Nelson Mandela, attention has shifted to the sign language interpreter who was on stage. Experts are saying he's a fake.
Some local experts are definitely questioning this man's credentials, and even though the sign language we use here in the U.S. is different from other parts of the world, they said there's no mistake something isn't right. 

"When you see repetition over and over again, you know something's up," said Dyan Sue Kovacs, with the help of her interpreter. When she saw the man signing at Nelson Mandela's memorial, standing at the podium beside President Barack Obama, she knew something was up. 

"Wow, is this real? Is it possible that you have a fake interpreter in this situation? It's rather disgusting," Kovacs said. 

Sign language experts across the globe are sounding the alarm about this man. Kovacs said not only was he just repeating the same movements, but he had no facial expressions. 

"That's the meaning of the sign, the emotion, the intonation," Kovacs said. "If they have a flat face, we don't know, is this emotional or is it flat?"

"Even I was looking at it and going, you're just doing the same hand movements over and over," said ASU student Peyton Gallovich. She is starting a Deaf and Hearing Network at the end of January to launch a different kind of newscast and bring people together. 

"Have deaf people be the anchors and they're going to sign but then in post production we're going to overlay voices and give people the option of closed captioning," Gallovich said.

Kovacs said if any good can come out of this, it would be raising awareness of the importance of having reliable interpreters. 

"It's very important that we have certified interpreters," she said.

The South African government is investigating.

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