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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AML-Global Provides Interpretation Services to Reagan Library Visitors
A recent gathering at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library required an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter to assist deaf and hearing-impaired visitors. American Language Services was chose as the ASL interpreter who interpreted speakers’ words and allowed hearing-impaired participants the opportunity to fully experience the program being presented there.
The Simi Valley, Calif., institution was built to contain relevant papers, historic documents and memorabilia and biographical information on the nation’s 40th president, Ronald Wilson Reagan.
As a Presidential Library administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Reagan Library, under the authority of the Presidential Records Act, is the repository of presidential records for President Reagan’s administration. The Library’s holdings include over 60 million pages of documents, over 1.6 million photographs, a half million feet of motion picture film, tens of thousands of audio and video tapes and over 40,000 artifacts.
Among the most visited exhibits at the library is the Air Force One Pavilion, where you can walk on board the actual Air Force One aircraft, tail number 27000, that flew seven U.S. presidents. In addition, visitors can view a full-size replica of the White House Oval Office.
American Language Services provides American Sign Language interpretation services at conferences, meetings, classes and during legal proceedings. In addition to providing American Sign Language Services, ALS also supplies Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) services to the deaf and hard of hearing in a variety of different settings, including classrooms, conferences and in meetings. In addition to providing ASL and CART services, American Language Services also provides equipment for interpretations, including headsets, transmitter/receivers, sound booths and technical support.
In the world of interpretation there is one special language–highly requested language–that stands apart from the rest: it has no written words, and it is never spoken. So what is this mystery language that has no written alphabet and is never spoken? The language is ASL or American Sign Language and is utilized by many of the world’s hearing impaired communities.
ASL came about largely due to the efforts of Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, LL.D., who opened the first permanent institution for the hearing impaired, American Asylum for Deaf-Mutes (now known as the American School for the Deaf). It was there that attempts to reach out to the hearing impaired community were fashioned into what we now know as American Sign Language.
Sign language, in the western world, gets its roots from France, from what we call Old French Sign Language; although many American settlers witnessed the use of similar “signing” techniques in the indigenous communities of the Plains Indians, it didn’t influence the European settlers version of the same idea. Reverend Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, LL.D., at his institution, is credited with crafting American Sign Language into what it is today—the most widely-spoken version of sign language in the world.
ASL, though now the most commonly-used version of sign language in the world—including the non-English speaking sector of the world—is a prominent and respected language now, but this has not always been the case. During the latter half of the 1800’s, debates within and around the “deaf” community sparked concern on whether or not signing should be used. Manualists (pro-sign language) and Oralists (anti-sign language) debated on whether or not the hearing impaired community should continue to sign, or assimilate into mainstream society by learning to lip read and vocalize. It was not until William Stokoe, a respected college English Professor at Gallaudet University, studied, analyzed, and dissected ASL; and through rigorous articles and documentation, legitimized the language for the world in 1955, over one hundred years after its incarnation.
Today American Sign Language interpreters offer services in a varieties of fields, catering to each and every need of the hearing impaired community—job interviews, funerals, weddings, legal matters, school classes, and Vegas shows are just some of the various times when ASL interpreters are utilized to facilitate communication with the hearing impaired.
Sign language, since it is not spoken, is in a class unto itself. The interpreters train rigorously, and must keep their hands and arms well-rested and toned in order to keep their performance sharp, and their muscles agile. Sign language interpreters often work in pairs to allow for frequent breaks so they do not develop carpel tunnel syndrome or other, various hand cramps, muscle spasms, etc. Sign language interpreters are also, often very visible and recognizable within their local hearing impaired community, and have a special notoriety and reverence given to them for their work.
To say that American Sign Language is unique and special in relation to the other languages provided by American Language Services, is an understatement—it is a necessity to help a community of people live and function in the mainstream world. No other language is so unique; and as languages come and go in the modern world, one language is sure to stand the test of time—of the times—American Sign Language.