Interpreter accused of signing gibberish during Hurricane Irma briefing


Jason Hurdich, a Clemson University professor and expert in American Sign Language, tells the Bradenton Herald he couldn't understand 95% of what a deaf interpreter was signing during the September 8 briefing from the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center. The Emergency Operations Center in Manatee County was up and running, ready to announce crucial information.

After failing to get an expert to communicate the evacuation and safety advice, they instead asked county employee Marshall Greene, who works as a lifeguard for the marine rescue unit and who has a deaf brother.

Jason Hurdich, a Clemson University professor and ASL interpreter, told the Herald that he was "shocked" when he saw the video of Greene, as he could not understand 95 percent of what he was signing.

However, it seems the county made a big blunder.

"I knew something went horribly wrong", VisCom's Charlene McCarthy said.

However, she claims, she was never called to help.

The operator of a company that provides deaf interpreters to Manatee County told WPTV that it was "horribly unnerving" for her to watch the press conference. "It was obvious to me that he wasn't in a professional interpreter right off the bat, and then when he started signing, I was totally shocked", he said.

County leaders said they were "in a pinch" when looking for an interpreter. Chris Wagner spoke with us via interpreter from his home in Clearwater.

He also wore a yellow top - interpreters usually wear a colour that contrasts against their skin tone, making their hands stand out.

The person communicating via sign language always looks straight ahead when communicating the content of the press conference or event.

"Everybody was talking about it on social media", he told the WFLA news channel.

We spoke with the interpreter's family Tuesday night.

The interpreter's family said he just did what his bosses asked him to do.

"He can't expect to communicate something he doesn't know", Greene's father told WFLA.

The deaf community was rightfully furious and demanded an apology from Manatee County officials.