Mandela Memorial Shadowed by Sign Language Fraud

As tearful eyes around the world looked on, national leaders arrived in South Africa to eulogize the passing of Nelson Mandela, legendary anti-apartheid revolutionary leader and former president. As each dignitary spoke, Thamsanqa Jantjie, interpreted for the deaf. There was only one problem: Jantjie’s strange gestures, were meaningless. His actions were later decried as a mockery, and Jantjie became a national disgrace. But that wasn’t the end of it. Further investigation fanned even greater flames of worldwide outrage.

Coverage of Jantjie continued long after the memorial. Members of the international press delved deeper into how such an obviously incompetent interpreter had come to stand next to the most powerful men in the world and gesture gibberish. Soon it was discovered that he had interpreted for the South African Government before with equally poor results. In fact, after the earlier event, thousands complained, saying Jantjie’s interpreting had been ‘100 percent inaccurate.’ Other news sources reported that the government continued to use him because he was the lowest bidder, charging about $40 less than other interpreters.

Finding good Sign Language interpreters can be challenging anywhere, especially when demand outpaces supply, something now happening here in the U.S. Interpreting for the deaf is growing rapidly in the U.S. as well as worldwide. As more and more individuals needing these services attend colleges, seminars, local government meetings, conferences, etc, organizations are clamoring to secure professional and qualified interpreters. Many organizations come to us, American Language Services, to handle these important assignments. Celebrating 30 years in the language services industry, we have become a trusted resource for American Sign Language.

Governments, corporations and other organizations around the world have been relying on American Language Services for translation and interpreting services, including sign language interpreting. Our vetting process for interpreters is one of the toughest in the industry, and it’s one of the reasons our clients call on us again and again. We have access to thousands of interpreters across the country and around the globe. We provide interpreters of American Sign Language and many other sign language systems, worldwide to go along with over 200 other languages. We meet organizations diverse requirements on a daily basis.

The next time you need to find a sign or foreign language interpreter, contact us. Our helpful, informative customer service associates will be more than happy to answer your questions and guide you through the entire process from start to finish.

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