In Tampa Florida on November 28th, Deaf and hard-of-hearing people turned on their tv or live video for an update on a serial killer in the area. Four people had been shot dead at that point. The plan was to see the police chief and Tampa Mayor announce that they may have caught the killer, but here’s what people saw instead. Take a look.
[Video footage shows a press conference with an interpreter on the left.]
Melissa: What do you think about what you just saw? Tampa Bay Times reported that there was widespread confusion among Deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers. A Tampa Police Department spokesperson also mentioned something interesting.
[Screen shows a quote: ”We did not request an interpreter for a news conference on the 28th" -Janelle McGregor, Tampa Police Department Spokesperson]
Melissa: The interpreter has been identified as Derlyn Roberts. Officials are now investigating who sent her to interpret for the news conference. A certified interpreter was hired through Purple Communications the next day, November 29th. Perhaps they had learned their lesson. Is this a widespread problem in Florida? Remember the ASL interpreter at a Manatee County news conference who signed some now infamous phrases like “Bear monster”? To paint the picture, the man was wearing a yellow shirt and red shorts.
[Video footage shows the infamous Manatee County ‘interpreter’.]
Melissa: At that time, the mayor at the news conference was trying to warn residents of Hurricane Irma. In the Tampa Bay Times article, Windy Rossi, an ASL interpreter in Texas, explains a theory. It could be that the state of Florida does not require ASL interpreters to be certified through the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. They are not required to maintain high standards that the Deaf, DeafBlind and hard of hearing communities deserve. Maybe spotlighting this issue will help change that.