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RIT reacts to Mandela interpreter controversy

Rochester, N.Y. - Advocates for the deaf say that wasn't a sign-language interpreter who was on stage during Nelson Mandela's memorial service yesterday in Johannesburg.

They say the man was just a faker who was waving his hands around meaninglessly.

It's raising questions about how the man was able to insert himself into a supposedly secure event attended by scores of heads of state, including President Barack Obama.

The controversy was the subject of classes at R.I.T's National Technical Institute for the Deaf Wednesday.

Director of A.S.L. And Interpreting Education at R.I.T. Kim Kurz says she could tell something was not right.

"I could detect some similarity in movements in things, movement that kept being repeated," Kurz said. "To be on the stage to  be signing this fake, invented sign language, it was really demoralizing for the deaf community."

It is a sentiment shared for students in her class, who worry about the impact this could have on interpreters.

"I think it draws attention to the significant problems they have in South Africa for infrastructure and what they have for accountability," Isaiah Tyler, a NTID student said.

While Kurz says a fake interpreter has slipped through the cracks in the United States too, there are ways to find out if in an interpreter is qualified.

"There are agencies that represent interpreters with the appropriate credentials that include certifications," Kurz said.

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Washington Times