Critics say sign language interpreter sent mixed message during Irma


Chris Wagner is the former president of the National Association for the Deaf. The interpreter - a lifeguard named Marshall Greene - apparently has a deaf brother. When Greene began signing words like "pizza", "monster" and "bear", along with other gibberish during an emergency evacuation order - those who are hard of hearing were livid.

The operator of a company that provides deaf interpreters to Manatee County told WPTV that it was "horribly unnerving" for her to watch the press conference.

Mr Greene's family defended him - saying he was only helping out at the press conference after organisers approached him.

"It was obvious to me he wasn't a professional interpreter right off the bat", he said.

County leaders told WFLA that they were, "in a pinch", and needed an interpreter for the deaf.

"Everybody was talking about it on social media, everyone was shocked, asking leaders in the deaf community to do something about it", he told local news channel WFLA.

Charlene McCarthy, the founder of VisCom sign language interpretation service agency, said she wished the county would have called her.

Wagner said Greene also fell foul of basic good practice for interpreters by wearing a bright yellow shirt, thereby making his hands less visible to deaf viewers.

There was outrage among the deaf community when it emerged that a sign language interpreter who warned about "bears and monsters" ahead of Hurricane Irma, was an amateur with no expertise for the role.

Azzara told the paper that the county has requested an interpreter and public information assistance from the state of Florida.

Critics said Manatee County put people in danger when they put Greene up to the task. The interpreter's family said he was asked by his bosses to step in and help during a crucial time.

Manatee County officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BuzzFeed News.