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'SNL' Skit Mocks Sign Language Interpreter

'Saturday Night Live' opening skit puts American sign language interpreter front and center.


NEW YORK CITY -- 'SNL' You could tell from a mile away that Saturday Night Live was going to use Lydia Callis, Mayor Bloomberg's American Sign Language interpreter, in their opening skit. But was it ... funny?


Callis became an overnight celebrity this week for her animated facial expressions as she interpreted ASL for Michael R. Bloomberg during his many press conferences regarding Hurricane Sandy . But as journalist Lilit Marcus wrote over at the Atlantic, much of the coverage of Callis was patronizing to ASL speakers.

Marcus is the child of two hearing impaired parents and was dismayed, if not entirely surprised, that the hearing world seemed to think Callis was there to provide goofy entertainment.

Yes, Lydia Callis’ facial expressions and large, emphatic signs are a bit unusual among interpreters, but they’re not incorrect. Most interpreters have a difference between the way that they sign for large groups and the way that they sign for small ones.

Callis’ sign style reminds me more of the way that interpreters translate at Broadway shows or at college graduations, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong or that she’s doing it for attention... Read The Full Story.

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