North Carolina dispatchers facing criticism after sign-language parody goes viral

By CNN, Briana Edwards - Digital Contributor

FAYETTEVILLE N.C. - Two 911 dispatchers are receiving major backlash after their parody video of a Hurricane Dorian news conference went viral.

WTVD reported the press conference parody video initially posted on a personal Facebook page before being reposted by the Houston Black Deaf Advocates.

The video features 911 dispatchers Catherine Hammonds and Tamra Whitted. Hammonds can be seen reporting an update on Hurricane Dorian while Whitted imitates sign language interpretation in the back.

"The lady that was pretending to be an interpreter had on a black shirt and interpreters code of ethics we are supposed to wear dark colored shirts that are skin contrasting. So it caused a little bit of confusion and some people in the deaf community thought she was hired, that this was an actual broadcast. And they didn't realize this was a false and that their language was being made fun of," Josie Croteau, interpreter for emergency services, said.

Many of Croteau's clients, as well as professional interpreters, were left both offended and confused by the parody. The city of Lumberton disapproves of the video and says it is a serious error in judgement.

Neither employees have been released from their jobs and the city says both Hammond and Whitted will undergo training from the North Carolina Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

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