Superstorm Sandy, Meet Your New Star: Bloomberg Sign-Language Interpreter Lydia Callis

By signing the staid Mayor's press conferences with vigor, Lydia Callis became the Internet's latest celeb.

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Lydia Callis, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s official sign-language interpreter, has become an unlikely star of Superstorm Sandy. During Bloomberg’s televised press conferences on the storm — delivered in his standard business-like fashion — Callis translated his words with enthusiasm and passion. In fact, her presence at press conferences have provided New Yorkers with what New York magazine described as “a legitimate reason to smile.”

There haven’t been a lot of famous sign-language interpreters before this; Jack Jason became a familiar face as the signer for Academy Award–winning actress Marlee Matlin during her appearances on The Celebrity Apprentice and Dancing with the Stars. However, there may be a niche market out there for Callis. She  not only was able to translate the important words of the mayor to anxious viewers across the country but also provided clear, coherent and animated explanations to millions of deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans.

Of course, in the world of social media it was only a matter of seconds before a Tumblr page had surfaced recreating Callis’ energized and purposeful facial expressions, while a newfound fan base on Twitter sang her praises.

16 comments
kav1
kav1

I LOVED her!  She was fun and I wanted to hug her.  Someone said she signed with a New York accent.  She is perfect for Mayor Bloomberg, and I would love to see her signed on as his permanent signer.  She was really fantastic.

DestinyYarbro
DestinyYarbro

The Deaf Dream (https://www.facebook.com/TheDeafDream) followed DeafNation's example and wrote to Chelsea Handler to show our disapproval for how our language and culture was treated.  Take a look at our letter on our page! 

http://bringmethathorizondestiny.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/the-deaf-dream-supports-bloombergs-interpreter-and-against-chelsea-handler/

We believe that our culture, history, community and language should be treated with respect.  Especially as this intepreter did an EXCELLENT job and thoroughly & correctly communicated the urgency of the Mayor's announcements.  We stand by Lydia Callis and tell her well done.

Juan Jose Gorocica
Juan Jose Gorocica

ok wwhen i eat out fast food mostly....i help nancy reagan steaks,,,,,which i know conicidingly helps motel chains....thanks zagat surveyors at kfc(super secretwar recognition props) secret wars dc comics all rights reserved,,,,,,,,,in a nutshell what are they doing with thse watchman and rocketeer type programmes..hoover has them blacklisted......and admits its painful!!

Kelli Ruane
Kelli Ruane

Saw her interpreting while watching the weather news, she's pretty good! Even though I noticed the lips saying a bit differently from what she was interpreting but she did a great job!

SarahJoSchoenhaar
SarahJoSchoenhaar

What I'm not sure people realize is that this this level of emotion shown is pretty much par for the course in the deaf community. Pretty much everybody who is fluent at signing will be much more expressive than hearing people. One of the first things one learns when they begin to sign is that your facial expressions are just as important as the actual sign. 

ironyman2
ironyman2

Upstaging the mayor during a time of crisis? Her white-hot star days are numbered. 

Adriannananana
Adriannananana

Ms. Callas is not mocking the mayor. The expressiveness she conveys is a necessary part of English/American Sign Language interpreting, it is how interpreters convey the tone of voice being used by the speaker. It's wonderful that an interpreter is being shown live on TV, it allows the mayor's message to reach a wider audience directly and simultaneously. This is a real example of truly equal access, bravo!