As I submit this, some time has passed since the incident of the “fake interpreter” at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela. While this was an event of historic proportions, it was not an event where the life, liberty or future prospects of the participants were placed at particular risk. Do not misunderstand; what happened was fundamentally wrong – Deaf people were excluded from sharing in the memory of a person who has had a profound impact upon the world that we all share, as highlighted by Brandon Arthur in his post, Nelson Mandela: Have Sign Language Interpreters Disappointed the World? It was a major injustice and it is upsetting to witness access being denied in such a way.
There are no two ways about it; the events at the memorial were appalling, yet, in some ways, the level of attention that this single incident has received is nothing short of amazing. On a daily basis, Deaf communities put great energy into the fight for equality, yet this particular incident seems to have captured the imaginations of many people.