At the annual National Economists’ Club dinner in November, Ben Bernanke suggested that the target for the federal-funds rate would remain near zero for a considerable time. A man named Travis Painter, standing onstage, simultaneously relayed the Federal Reserve chairman’s words.
Mr. Painter is a sign-language interpreter for the deaf, a job that is nowhere more sought-after and difficult than in acronym-and-jargon-filled Washington, D.C. “Terps,” as they call themselves, are charged with re-creating in crystal clarity speeches often known for nuance, importance and opacity.
Today, Mr. Painter is a contractor whose gigs run the gamut from court hearings and testimony to political fundraisers and the White House Easter Egg Roll. At all these events Mr. Painter follows several general signing rules—and many more specific to D.C.’s dialect.
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