A shocking video has emerged out of Manatee County, Florida, where government officials televised a warning before Hurricane Irma made landfall. Now, the clip has gone viral after tens of thousands of viewers noticed one huge problem with the man in the yellow shirt who was interpreting the warning into sign language.
According to the video uploaded to YouTube, Manatee County government officials were trying to get a dire warning out to residents in their area about Hurricane Irma. The message they were providing was of the utmost importance, and no one can argue with that. However, as the televised press meeting made its way on to social media, thousands of viewers immediately noticed there was something wrong with the man wearing a yellow shirt in the video who appears to be providing the information in sign language.
One viewer with the username Jane Smith, who is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) actually took the time to interpret what the man in the video was signing in his attempt to interpret what the county officials were saying. Many viewers who saw the video on The Angel Clark Show’s Facebook page were outraged and wanted answers from Manatee County officials in regard to the complete disservice done to the county’s deaf population.
Jane Smith, who uploaded the video to YouTube on September 9, 2017, added the caption, “I added captions to show you what the ‘Sign Language Interpreter’ was actually signing. Sad situation for Deaf people in Manatee County.” As the clip begins to play, it becomes immediately obvious as to what a huge mistake the county officials had made with the sign language interpreter.
The extremely confusing sign language interpretation began with, “Morning almost. Want PCNE. Day Want now test. That hurricane NMA. Give plan. Reduce me. On that news. Test evacuate.” I think just from looking at the first few sentences of the sign language interpretation, it’s apparent that the gentleman in the yellow shirt does not know sign language.
Some may look at the mistake as something trivial or even humorous, but the reality of the situation is that the county officials were responsible for disseminating vital information. This is tantamount to broadcasting the Hurricane warning in a language that no one can understand. Although the gentleman in the yellow shirt may have been trying to help, the message he delivered probably caused much more frustration for those depending on an accurate interpretation of the emergency information than anything else.
In just one day, Jane Smith’s uploaded video, posted to YouTube, gathered over 69,000 views. Many of the viewers who watched the footage could not believe what they were seeing. One person named Joann Ward said, “Impersonating an interpreter during a state of emergency should get him some jail time. Hearing people would not put up with someone that mumbled through all that emergency info. Dude, you are a jerk!”
I don’t quite agree with the man deserving jail time as it appears he was trying to help and may have been asked by one of the county officials to do what he could. But in all seriousness, his interpretation of the message was a colossal fail.
It’s quite obvious that people weren’t happy with this huge oversight. Although Manatee County Officials were most assuredly trying to do what they could, their population of ASL speakers deserved just as much consideration as those who could hear the televised broadcast. To some, it might not seem like a big deal until a situation develops where a person is injured or dies for lack of understanding or information. In this case, the disgruntled viewers were justified for the simple fact that it is just as important to be prepared to communicate with the hearing population as it is with the hearing impaired population.