Rep. Yoder cracks interpreter joke at deaf caucus briefing

Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.) on Thursday doubled-checked that his sign language interpreter was authentic before speaking at a briefing on deaf awareness in the Capitol, according to a report. 

 “Do I need to double-check though that the sign language interpreter actually is an interpreter?" he asked during remarks, The Washington Post reported.

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"Looks like she’s legit. Okay. If she starts just making stuff up let me know," Yoder told a small audience, who reportedly broke out in laughter. 

Yoder’s joke came after news that the sign language interpreter during President Obama’s speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service used fake hand gestures, later claiming he suffered from schizophrenia

The interpreter, Thamsanqa Jantjie, said that he is certified to sign, but he slipped into an altered state during the ceremony, according to reports. He also said he had become violent during some previous episodes. 

Yoder and freshman Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) plan to co-chair the Congressional Deaf Caucus, which has not yet launched. They are still recruiting members.

Yoder’s office said the overlap with news of Obama’s interpreter was coincidental and the meeting had been planned since November. 

Yoder serves on Washington, D.C.’s, Gallaudet University Board of Trustees. He was appointed by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) because he represents the district that houses the Kansas School for the Deaf. 

Reps. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) and Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) also spoke on Thursday.