Romanian news channels insult deaf people with fake sign language?

Odd things happen in Romanian news media. Now, some of the interpreters hired by television companies in Romania are interpreting the news for deaf people using a made-up language instead of proper sign language. After the complaint was made public on Facebook, the Romanian Ombudsman was notified, who then asked the National Audiovisual Council (in Romanian: Consiliul Naţional al Audiovizualului or CNA) for clarification.

After spending some time watching TV, Marius Ghincea, the adult child of deaf parents, has turned to Facebook to share his complaint about the lack of professionalism shown by alleged sign language interpreters hired by popular TV channels.

“Some interpreters I watched interpreted in any language but sign language. I mean, it was obvious they were interpreting something that looked like sign language, but it definitely wasn’t the Romanian sign language I learned as a child and that I use to communicate with deaf Romanian people,” he wrote.

Ghincea also complained about the size of the “window” allocated to the interpreters on the screen.

Since the National Audiovisual Council is the regulatory authority for audiovisual programs, after reading Ghincea’s post, the Ombudsman wanted to know whether the CNA had received other similar complaints.

The council’s reply was surprising: So far, it seems that Ghincea’s complaint is the only one, and it’s also unofficial because it wasn’t sent to the body but posted on Facebook instead.

No one has so far complained to the regulatory authority, the CNA replied to the Romanian Ombudsman’s inquiry.

Sign language interpreters hold a license, and television companies don’t have the ability to check license holders’ level of knowledge; that’s the responsibility of the authority issuing the license, they say. That leaves Ghincea pretty much on his own with his complaint, although he could still appeal to the licensing body. Or maybe, it’s time for people with disabilities to ask television channels to rethink their screening processes when hiring sign language interpreters.

Related: Romanian MP submits education bill to counter fake news

Title image: Sign language on TV. Image credit: Orlando O’Neill/Flickr

Author: István Fekete