Lessons From the Mandela Interpretation Debacle

Lessons From the Mandela Interpretation Debacle
Julie Parker

Julie Parker


The larger your business on a global scale, the higher the probability you will require assistance from interpreters. An interpreter can be relied upon to explain the details of speeches or presentations in different languages, whether it is the spoken word or sign language. Last December, a significant event involving a qualified interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service sparked worldwide controversy. The mishap, which injured the credibility of the South African government, is sure to make others understand the importance of hiring someone who can prove interpreter translator credentials.

Obama's Message Unclear to Millions of People

President Barack Obama delivered a heartfelt speech at Nelson Mandela's memorial service. However, the hand movements of the supposedly “qualified” sign language interpreter were hardly comprehensible, and left the millions of hearing impaired individuals struggling to understand Obama’s words. Hundreds of people took to social media sites to vent their anger. With this being a milestone in South Africa, people are wondering why the interpreter was not investigated beforehand.

How Could This Impact Other Situations?

As if this situation wasn't serious enough to have major consequences for the hearing impaired, the South African government and the profession of interpretation, ramifications could have been much worse, had the circumstances been different. Several U.S. organizations certify interpreters with necessary qualifications to make sure they adapt to national standards, and can handle any situation, such as signing for the President. When you consider the situations that medical interpreters may be asked to deal with, like working in a first-emergency response or hospital setting, the significance of hiring a high-level interpreter becomes clear.

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What Should be Done About it

The main qualification an interpreter should maintain is The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. These people should be called upon if you want to steer clear of "fraudulent" interpreters, and give your business a more professional appearance.

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Julie Parker

Julie Parker

Julie Parker is the Transcription Supervisor for GMR Transcription Services, Inc, a leading U.S. transcription company based in Orange County, California. Julie has a true passion for effective verbal and written communication. She applies her passion to providing the excellent customer service and accuracy upon which GMR Transcription's clients depend. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, watching movies, and hosting dinner parties with friends.