Bloomberg sign interpreter suddenly famous

Oct. 31, 2012 at 3:04 PM
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NEW YORK, Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The American Sign Language interpreter New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg used for his press updates on superstorm Sandy has become an overnight Web sensation.

Lydia Callis has developed a sudden Internet following, with a tribute Tumblr page called "Lydia Callis's Face for NYC Mayor," a YouTube video with her signing set to music and thousands of Twitter fans.

Why? Because of her passionate expressiveness during Bloomberg's televised news conferences, especially when contrasted with Bloomberg's stone-faced seriousness, the New York Post said.

"I could watch her for hours," one admirer wrote. "She needs to do sign language interpreting for everything everywhere forever," another wrote.

"I really want Lydia Callis [Bloomberg's sign language interpreter] next to Charles Barkley on Inside the NBA. Can someone make this happen?" wrote yet another.

New York magazine described Callis as providing New Yorkers with "a legitimate reason to smile" during the seriousness of post-tropical Cyclone Sandy.

Callis told the Post the creative use of her hands, arms, head, facial expressions and body language is simply part of her job.

"I'm here to serve the deaf and hard-of-hearing community," she said.

"I'm just glad, and I'm honored, that I was able to get the message out there ... and that's what it's all about."

ASL -- whose grammar and syntax are distinct from any oral language, including English -- is "a very visual language, so sometimes you have to use pictures to describe what people are saying in English," said Callis, whose mother and three siblings are deaf.

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