The Interpreter Impostor at the Mandela Memorial

Mandela’s memorial yesterday has ignited a firestorm today out of the Soweto rain.  No, not Obama’s failed message, or the non-Michelle approved Presidential selfie with other heads of State, but rather the fraud of an impostor posing as an interpreter for the Deaf during the ceremony.

The alleged sign language interpreter was so awful, in fact, that he had to have been in on the cruel joke that he knew nothing about even creating rudimentary signs.

Unfortunately, this sort of “faking it” is actually pretty common in the Deaf Community.  There are a lot of “professional” interpreters who are not well-trained but who are given jobs because they are cheap — even though they are incapable of proper signing.  The Deaf suffer and the incompetence gets a paycheck.

While not many working interpreters are as fraudulent on the level of what happened in Soweto — the end effect is still the same: The Deaf person has no idea what’s being said and has to guess about what’s really happening.

Continue reading → The Interpreter Impostor at the Mandela Memorial

Food Imagery and the Mastication Memorial

I have always been shocked and amazed when people we know and love take time and effort to publish — what they’re about to turn into poop — on the public interwebs. Yes, I’m taking about the infectious internets viral phenomenon we’ll call… “Food Imagery and the Mastication Memorial.”

Continue reading → Food Imagery and the Mastication Memorial

Project Liberty & The Deaf Community

As a Deaf woman, the first thing that came to my mind when the Twin Towers collapsed was, “Who is going to communicate with the Deaf New Yorkers? How will we know exactly what happened and what will happen next?”

Wireless Communication
Thanks to text pagers, Deaf people communicated with each other and kept each other informed. Whatever was happening, the Deaf stayed in touch on a one-to-one basis and they updated each other as to the missing and the injured. They told each other, with fingers flying on tiny keyboards, how many firefighters were missing and how the Police were handling the street level crises arising from the terrorist strike. Many of my Deaf friends told me their Hearing families and friends outside of New York would page them and ask where they were when it happened and if they were OK.

For the literate Deaf who know how to spell and who can type on an American keyboard, that sort of instant text communication was fine, but what about the Deaf from other countries who did not know how to spell in English? New York City has a huge immigrant Deaf population and many of them have no language whatsoever. What about the illiterate Deaf and the Deaf who are developmentally disabled or mentally ill or are so poor they cannot afford a text pager? How would these disenfranchised Deaf ever get a feeling of knowledge and safety?

Project Liberty
I found the answer in Project Liberty. Project Liberty is a program sponsored by the State of New York that helps anyone and everyone who is having a hard time coping. Project Liberty paid me, as a Deafness professional, to travel to Deaf people’s homes and talk to them one-on-one and in groups about what happened on September 11th.

Continue reading → Project Liberty & The Deaf Community

A Monument for Hugh Luke

[Note: This article was written for the 75th Anniversary celebration of Prairie Schooner held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln October 11-13, 2001.]

Hugh Luke, former Editor of Prairie Schooner, was teaching an undergraduate course in Poetry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln when I first met him. I remember being astonished by Hugh’s passion for the written word and his influence and inspiration have steeped deep within me for 15 odd years or so.

Continue reading → A Monument for Hugh Luke

After the Music

by Steve Gaines

July 3, 1954

On my 18th Birthday
A Memorial to an Ill-Spent Youth

It was so long ago
and I seldom bring it back these days
surprised to look at that age of adventure
from this distant couch
unable to recapture that careless attitude…
reluctant to admit the inability I suppose…
but here goes anyway

Continue reading → After the Music