Gone are the days when deaf people face difficulty in communicating with others. Language barriers are coming down all around the globe. American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters have become famous over the past few years, showing the increasing recognition of the deaf culture.  Amber Galloway Gallego is a fierce advocate who stands out for her spectacular sign interpretation.   

Using fame for Deaf Community

Amber Galloway Gallego, an ASL interpreter, has become famous worldwide by indications interpreting on various occasions and at concerts of many popular artists. Videos of Amber Galloway Gallego went viral and were equally popular as the videos of rap artists such as Twista and Kendrick Lamar. Her videos hit millions of views over a short time. Gallego, a viral sensation, is also known as Jay-Z of Hip-Hop Sign Language as she performs with the artists like Lady Gaga, The Black Keys, and Cher. Signing music requires a great deal of hard work and it is a niche skill. Gallego very well expresses the music’s complexities such as tone, metaphors, and overall message.

Amber Gallego used her popularity to bring notice to the community of deaf people, advocating for involvement, specifically within the arts. She observed that deaf people more intensely experience music than others do but in a different manner. Gallego believes that music should be accessible to everybody when it has a message. Deaf people should feel included and connected. Other than Gallego, other famous ASL interpreters are also getting praise.

Social Criticism of Interpreters

This is a fact that popularity brings criticism too. For instance, in the year 2013, interpreter Thamsanqa Jantjie at Nelson Mandela’s funeral made no sense in eleven South African official languages. According to the director of South Africa’s Deaf Federation Bruno Druchen, Jantjie was moving only his hands but there was no meaning in his gestures. The interpreter claimed to have a schizophrenic episode; however, his interpreting qualifications remain doubtful as Jantie refused to show his skills afterward.

The child of deaf parents and CNN reporter Lilit Marcus were not happy with the fact that ASL interpreters are gaining popularity and going viral. According to Lilit, signing is seen as a performance art by many hearing people instead of breathing, a living language that a number of people use for communication every single day. It does a disfavor to interpreters as well as their profession. People focus on hot talks about interpreters going viral but very less think about the lack of access, discrimination, and other issues that the deaf community face.  Lilit also shared the incidence when in events and festivals, organizers brag of the accommodations they have made to ease access because of the installation of wheelchair ramps just to see ASL interpreters or zero-captioned movies. It is important to keep the needs of deaf communities on the top rather than praising interpreters for enjoyment and fun for hearing people.