First, British Columbians, I’d like to make something clear:
“Nigel the Interpreter” is not performing.
Every day, the health officer of each province broadcasts a live update on what’s happening in their own province concerning the pandemic. In BC, this is Dr. Bonnie Henry and Adrian Dix; a third person appears on tv with them, Nigel Howard. Nigel is the American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter, and his job is to keep the signing deaf community informed on what Dr. Henry and Health Minister Dix are telling Canadians, which is “keep your fucking distance”.
Every day, they repeat this, “keep your fucking distance,” and people still aren’t getting it. Know what else people aren’t getting? That Nigel isn’t there as a visual effect.
The blog I got the above comic from, Vancouver is Awesome, wrote, “His expressive, passionate delivery of the messages Henry and Dix were relaying, using his hands and face, brought joy to people on a day when they could maybe need it the most.”
Sorry to rain on the parade you’re not having (since gatherings of more than 50 people are forbidden), hearing people, but not everything is for you. Nigel is relaying information during a time the signing deaf community needs it the most.
How come hearing people are routinely shocked by how expressive sign language is? To leave out the facial expressions would be the speaking equivalent of using a monotonous voice. Just like hearing people do random stuff with their hands while they speak, deaf people do things with their faces while they sign.
What most of his new fans probably also don’t know is: Nigel himself is deaf. A hearing interpreter stands in front of him: he then cleans up their ASL so that it is easily understood by a broad signing deaf audience. As shown by the cartoon, even hearing people understood what he was indicating when he held up his index fingers at a distance from each other.
Yes, he’s amazing at what he does, but he is not performing. He was performing as much as Dr. Henry and Adrian Dix were performing. We can all appreciate the job Nigel’s doing, I only wish people weren’t being so superficial about it. People need to understand that accessibility doesn’t need to be entertaining for it to be valid.
That’s all I have to say. About that.
While I’ve been legitimately social distancing, I’ve been doing some light arts and crafts-ing. What I mean is that I haven’t been creating anything that is meant to be put out on display. I mashed a bunch of coloured modelling clay together to roll into balls and logs, which are then fused into a character. I made a miniature version of my round son, Enfoiré:
The amount of art supplies I own is disproportionate to the number of artwork I put out. I moved them all with me from Montréal despite not being productive is because that stuff is expensive. Several tubes of acrylic paint have been with me since my original Victoria days (2003).
I’m not worried about keeping my hands busy for the next month or three. This level of physical inactivity has been hard for me to adjust to. On a low activity day, I’d walk to work where I’d spend 7.5 hours doing physical labour, and walk home. Throw some climbing and cycling in there, and you’ll be able to snack on cookies every night–as I have–without getting doughy.
I’ve figured that I can maybe do some solo hacky sack in the parking lot behind my building, but it rains a lot here, and I don’t wanna punt about a wet bag of pellets. With weather suitable for cycling year-round, I didn’t think Yann and I would miss the trainer we sold in Montréal, but here we are. We moved our hang board (a photo of this is coming up…) with us but didn’t get around to mounting it. We aimed to mount the hang board once we were sure our rent wasn’t going to increase once our one-year lease was up. This is in 9 days, but we’ve known that there was no increase in our rent for a month.
Now, supermarkets and takeout places are the only businesses that are still open, and neither stock plywood or deck screws.
Fortunately, I could think of a few people who would have that stuff just kicking around. Well, who doesn’t have extra 3″ deck screws laying around? Within 24 hours, a kind soul got that shit together, and even cut the plywood board to the size we needed, and put it outside his place for us to pick up so that there’d be zero contact between us.
This will help with core training and finger strength: Yann and I should be able to crush coal into diamonds once the mass quarantine ends. Surely diamonds are going to be a hot commodity in a world post-pandemic!
I am not so bothered by the loss of a tangible social life. I’ve never had much of one, to begin with. In fact, I was a shut-in for the first year after graduating from high school and did nearly all my socializing online. It’s generally easier for me to communicate with my friends online anyway.
…and I have Yann and the cats.