NYC Mayor Bloomberg's ASL interpreter Lydia Callis has her own fan-tumblr

A woman identified by NY Mag as Lydia Callis, the ASL interpreter at New York mayor Mike Bloomberg's side during tonight's Sandy update, was like a human emoticon for one of the nation's most expressionless mayors. Now she has internet fans, animated tribute GIFs, and her very own fan-tumblr. (Update: Her name is misspelled on the Tumblr and in the NY Mag report, according to NYC City Hall Bureau Chief @davidwchen.)


  1. ASL translation requires an emotional/facial aspect and I think it’s a cheap shot to say “hey look at her funny face!” It’s frankly othering, ableist, and I’d expect better – this is pretty much “look how funny this lady talks!”

        1. Most people are able to find that one hearing individual’s particular idiosyncrasies when signing for the nation’s largest city’s mayor as both humorous and frankly likeable without finding deafness something to laugh at.

          That you are unable to understand the difference may not be your fault, genetic limitations to intelligence, poor socialization skills, etc. But to go further and default to pomo-laced outrage is to highlight your limitations and make you a target of justified ridicule.

        2. Everyone communicates more effectively when they use body language and facial expressions instead of suppressing them.  The whole point of this is that she, without voice, communicates more effectively than Mayor Bloomberg, with voice.

        3. Yea, um, Blake.  You do understand that your use of “the Deaf” is an amateurish Straw man, right?  And, as has already been pointed out, the pc term is hearing impaired.  Really, if you are going to go commando over a perceived slight that wasn’t there, at least have the good graces to not use one of your own against that very same group.

    1. I had to look up both “othering” and “ableist”–way to divert the ridicule from her to your meta-irony!  (In all seriousness, your comment was the first thing I thought of when I saw this, but it’s still funny.)

      Also, they didn’t even use the best pic.  The first one on tumblr looks like she’s pulling a tapeworm out of her bran muffin.

    2. Agreed. I think press conferences this big are many hearing persons’ only exposure to ASL, so I can understand why someone would mistake the expressiveness for an idiosyncrasy.

    3. I don’t think this is, or is intended to be, an ableist post. I see it as a compliment. Interpreting does require a bit of exaggeration in order to communicate visually over a medium without a lot of pixels. Similar to how Shakespearean performers have to develop a highly exaggerated speech pattern in order to be clearly understood as “whispering” even though they are really shouting to a large crowd. It can be a bit goofy at times, and people emulate Patrick Stewart’s voice all the time in cheerful parody, but they notice it because it works. I’d be happy that people are noticing the work of an ASL interpreter, and how challenging it is do to it effectively. If her expressions are enhancing the communication even for people who can hear Bloomberg, then she’s doing great.

    4. Did you read the actual words of the post before mustering up your outrage?  Seriously, go read the actual words as they were written.  

      I’ll wait.

      The post is about how expressive she is and how it is juxtaposed against someone who has the expressiveness of a pile of sand.  It never once implies that she is funny or goofy or anything at all negative.  The only negative implication you might be able to squeeze from that post is a light jab at Bloomberg for being a bore to listen to.  Even the tumblr is respectful verging on worshipful, expressing nothing more mean spirited than a sense of awe.

      Save your indignity for people who deserve.

    5. Blake, grow up, seriously.  You read like a teen full of principled outrage over any perceived deviation from your version of a perfectly behaved society.  While most go through this stage as part of the maturation process, it normally subsides as we gain experience in the variations and subtleties of human communication in the real world.  So, by all means, hold onto whatever principles you have about whatever, but learn a little about how rich and diverse civil intercourse is before you  lash out at someone who does not conform to your narrow, uncompromising model and yet has said absolutely nothing wrong.

  2. I must be insensitive. I found nothing ableist about this. I think it is notable how much more reliance is placed upon visual communication when the audible component of communication is missing. I didn’t think she looks funny. Far from it.

    Just as I I find it interesting how much more animated the facial expressions of deaf people (is that the right term?) are when they are conversing. I find this attractive and fascinating. Even sexy.

    1. I’ve been yelled at for saying deaf. As far as I’ve been told the correct term is hearing-impaired, since it’s more inclusive.

      Although the deaf and hearing impaired people I’ve spoken to don’t seem to mind me saying deaf. It’s always been people with perfect hearing who’ve given me a hard time about terminology. I chalk it up to placing too high a value on being PC without understanding whether or not it makes sense in the situation. Like when I make an introduction for a close friend and use the verboten term deaf, which offends the hearing stranger for some reason.

Comments are closed.