Famous Sign Language Interpreters You Should Know
Sign language interpreters play an important role in bringing people together, facilitating dialogue and promoting mutual understanding.
We want to recognize the amazing talents of accomplished and admired sign language interpreters, today and every day!
These talented professionals don’t only translate from one language into another. They convey message, tone and intent, which is both a mental and physical task. And a time-sensitive one, at that!
The Celebrity Interpreters of COVID-19
Most recently, the global pandemic has created a world stage for sign language interpreters. Notable, in South Africa, Andiswa Gebashe and Nicoline Du Toit have hit headlines while serving as South African Sign Language (SASL) interpreters for South Africa’s president.
South African people who are hearing have been impressed by these women’s natural expressiveness in their SASL interpretations, as they appear to accurately reflect the frustration and exhaustion that so many felt as the pandemic shaped daily life.
NPR reported, “In one popular meme, Gebashe was captured in what looked like mid-scream (facial expressions are used in sign languages to convey tone) as the president announced a two-week extension of the country’s lockdown in early April.”
Interpreting in a Natural Disaster
Another sign language interpreter whom the larger public recognized for his valuable service in a crisis was Australian Sign Language (Auslan) interpreter Sean Sweeney.
Sweeney translates Rural Fire Services’ emergency announcements, an incredibly important job, because he is sharing news with the deaf and hard-of-hearing community that can be life or death. Most recently, Sweeney interpreted for the NSW Rural Fire Services during Australia’s 2019 bushfire crisis. He became a familiar face to many Australians. He also interprets safety messages about COVID-19 since the pandemic began.
“We don’t interpret word for word,” he said. “We’re delivering the meaning and the intent and the tone of the speaker. That’s our job.”
Music Performance Interpreting: Amber Galloway-Gallego
Amber Galloway-Gallego is beloved for her American Sign Language (ASL) interpretations of music. She’s signed for the 2013 Lollapalooza music festival, the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, Austin’s SXSW festival, and celebrities, including Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Lady Gaga, the Black Keys (nine times, she says), Cher, Madonna, the Rolling Stones and Snoop Dogg.
“I’m asked to interpret songs all the time because deaf people want access, and they want it in sign language,” she said.
Famous Hollywood Interpreter: Jack Jason
Jack Jason is known as Hollywood’s ASL interpreter. He’s most famous for his work for actress Marlee Matlin, with whom he’s worked for over 20 years.
Jason is celebrated for conveying Matlin’s voice – casual and also professional – as well as reflecting Matlin’s personality. He’s been by her side when she’s appeared on Celebrity Apprentice, Dancing with the Stars and even when she received an Oscar in 1987 for her performance in Children of a Lesser God.
Jason has also interpreted for Broadway performances and New York City’s Shakespeare in the Park, as well as for other celebrities, including Whoopi Goldberg (who also has hearing loss).
Centering Quality in Sign Language Interpreting
Remember that being a famous sign language interpreter and being a highly skilled interpreter are not always synonymous. Sometimes, a sign language interpreter rises to fame because they appear on TV next to someone else famous. Their professional responsibilities are to transmit information from voice into sign and vice versa.
If a sign language interpreter aims to steal the limelight, their actions take attention away from the Deaf community – the people they are supposed to be serving and empowering.
To ensure that your interpreter accurately conveys information, make sure the professional you are working with is properly vetted, with references.
Video Remote Interpreting
There are also interpreters that can be hired and provide interpreting over video for any event or meeting.
Ai-Media company Alternative Communication Services (ACS) offers comprehensive Video Remote Interpreting (VRI) services with highly-qualified interpreters in your local area.
VRI can be used for anything from formal or informal events to school or university classes, business meetings or personal appointments. Find out more on the ACS website.