Nelson Mandela Memorial Interpreter Angers Deaf Community

Advocates say sign-language interpreter was meaninglessly waving his arms around.
3:00 | 12/11/13

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Transcript for Nelson Mandela Memorial Interpreter Angers Deaf Community
This is a special room. Hello I'm tired Hernandez in New York with his ABC news digital special reports speaking gibberish with his hands that is experts say. About the man who. Steady provided sign language translation on the stage during Nelson Mandela's memorial service and children's children with world leaders the -- gestures. Apparently all made up. Pleasant signing any language adult BBC's. Ross has -- will Ross has more from Johannesburg. And put. He was one of the busiest men on the planet. No not Barack Obama the man next to him doing the sign language interpreting the speeches at the memorial ceremony for Nelson Mandela. He did it for hours. But death people started complaining over the Internet that they were missing out the chair of the -- society of South Africa came -- to tell us what he made at the ceremony. The Frank -- anything. Now is sending them some -- stood it doesn't have meaning that there I don't know what this means. -- courts interpret. So together we watched one of Nelson Mandela's grandchildren deliver -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- You can see even wonders if a rocking horse was mentioned in the podium because the interpreter -- the -- for one. Many people that hope that that be plenty of singing and dancing to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela they weren't really ready for all those long speeches at the ceremony. But the biggest headache now for the south African government which organized the event is to explain how -- this man got the job president -- percent. Fortunately from local TV it's clear that to interpret his -- -- a completely different page. An extraordinary case of lost in translation. Will Ross BBC news Johannesburg. For more on this I'm joined now by the president of the national association of the death Chris Wagner was talking with as via an interpreter. Thank you Chris so much for joining us. What was the signer do weighing that make people think he was a fake. Actually he was using gestures that were not signs at all normally they -- -- south African sign language. -- Here in the United States -- Americans I -- we asked colleagues and friends in South Africa and they said. That these were not south African sign language. Which it -- a lot of people. Somebody who took advantage of -- -- time and not signing but just gesture. It is something you know that we wanted to be cleared -- -- point -- We appreciate the fact that an interpreter was being provided as an event like this for Nelson Mandela at his memorial terrorists. But the concern is this was not the right person. Doing. Actually -- It's important to vet and to ensure qualifications. Before making -- selection. Even though -- language can differ from country to country -- the fact that that gentleman. Had no facial expressions assignment -- was wrong. Oh absolutely you could -- clearly that something wasn't right. Facial expressions plus appropriate -- choices it looks like that were very. Minor -- being used and the presenters went on to speak and speak and speak and there are not equal number of -- if you well. And speaking with the south African community members we found out that that wasn't -- correct language. Is there a feeling -- a sense among the deaf community that this is. A great disrespect. Very disrespectful absolutely. Most of it is. You know how to access to -- occasion is very important and to have a qualified individual who can sign appropriately. And gather the information and be a part of the event because of this. Eight. Language there was a lot of myths and so it was an insult that community. Prayer is something like this have never seen anything like this before. It to be honest. You know over time this is a rare event you know somebody -- get up in front of me. World and put on an offense that you know you wouldn't think would be caught. -- -- it is rare. You know we emphasize. You know having an interpreter at events like. This. Now we've learned a lot of those of us -- -- not very familiar excited we've learned a lot through this story particularly. That. Didn't different countries have their own version of sign language based on their own language but. From what I hear English has become more common. Sort of de facto language in sign. Is there any convergence in the global deaf community to unite over what language or do people feel as if the system. Right now is is better. -- each country has had its own. Form -- sign which there is an international sign. That can be used between get people from different countries. -- -- international science but not a -- is familiar. -- that language but each country does have their own and they cherish their own language. So it's considered perhaps -- positive that there's no one universal sign that that each country has their own. Language so to speak. Correct. Cable Chris -- it was great communicating with you speak with you and thanks to your interpreter Aaron as well. We've been at communicating with the national association of the deaf president Chris Wagner and thanks for joining -- you can of course get -- completely -- Right here on For now anti Hernandez in New York with his ABC news digital special report.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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