During an urgent message on September 8 about a Hurricane Irma evacuation in Manatee County, Florida, the Sign Language Interpreter used by the county stood there signing complete nonsense, according to hearing impaired people in the area.

Manatee County leaders had a problem. They urgently needed a sign language interpreter to translate an evacuation message relating to Hurricane Irma to hearing-impaired residents in the county. They asked Marshall Greene to help – a lifeguard with the marine rescue unit – whose older brother is deaf. This turned out to be one huge mistake.

Sign language interpreter signs nonsense words

While Greene has no problem making his brother understand him, he didn’t handle the evacuation speech well at all, signing a series of totally unrelated words, instead of the important message he was supposed to convey.

The Bradenton Herald reports Greene used words like “monsters” and “pizza” and even the phrase “Help you at that time to use bear big.”

Speaking with WFLA, Chris Wagner, former president of the National Association of the Deaf, said it was clear to him that Greene wasn’t a professional interpreter. Wagner said he and other leaders in the deaf community were “totally shocked.” He also said that it was all everyone spoke about on social media, requesting leaders of the deaf community to take action.

Local company could have provided a qualified interpreter

WFLA also spoke to Charlene McCarthy, who owns a company providing sign language interpreters for Manatee County.

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She said it was unnerving for her to watch Greene bungling the translation, knowing that VisCom could have provided a competent and qualified interpreter.

When Manatee County posted a video of the evacuation speech on Facebook, hearing impaired users of the platform were horrified. One commented to say officials with Manatee County should be ashamed of themselves for not using a qualified interpreter. They added that Greene didn’t even know basic sign language.

Similar responses were received on Twitter, with one user accusing the interpreter of putting deaf lives in danger because he was “clueless.”

However, Greene’s family backed him up, saying he did what he was asked to do. WFLA quotes Greene’s father as saying his son couldn’t be expected to communicate something he didn’t know.

Gov. Rick Scott’s sign language interpreter

It is a pity Manatee County couldn’t have got hold of the sign language interpreter who conveyed Gov.

Rick Scott’s hurricane evacuation speech. That interpreter, Sam Harris, turned into a viral star by amusing and cheering everyone (and not just the deaf) with his animated signing, leading to him appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to sign Jimmy's monologue below. Readers can also watch Harris in action during Scott’s evacuation warning speech here.