Sign language interpreters have a very important job. They make it possible for those who are deaf or who have hearing impairments to understand what’s being said/sung whether on TV or at live events. Perhaps that’s why it’s so bizarre to see a woman named Derlyn Roberts who pretended to be a professional sign language interpreter on camera when she didn’t know the first thing about ASL.
Derlyn Roberts’ antics first hit the headlines in 2017 when she was hired as an interpreter for a police news conference in Tampa, Florida. The force was announcing the arrested of a suspected serial killer and it was up to Roberts to share that news via sign language.
While it did seem at first as though she was translating what Tampa Police Department Chief Brian Dugan had to say, it soon became clear that none of the movements she was making corresponded to any actual words. Derlyn Roberts didn’t know sign language at all — she was faking it.
Derlyn Roberts was not who she appeared to be
As police spokeswoman Janelle McGregor told Inside Edition, she had no idea that Roberts’ was a fake. In fact, she seemed pretty competent. “She showed up and presented herself as being here to provide interpreter services,” McGregor recalled. “It’s part of something we’re looking into. We want to know how she found out about it, if someone hired her to come to the conference.”
An actual sign language interpreter was called in to translate what, if anything, Roberts was actually saying. According to Windy Rossi, Roberts “signed”: “Kill 55 million [unintelligible] please [unintelligible] arrest killed [unintelligible] work school work four one kill [unintelligible] three old two four now I will have ask want [unintelligible] about two times night.”
While she was questioned by police following the incident, it’s unclear whether or not she faced charges over the incident. However, the Daily Mail reported that Derlyn Roberts had previous convictions for burglary and grand theft. Not only that, but she’d spent five years behind bars on a felony fraud conviction.