Cirque du Soleil

Sign language is not performance art [Commentary]

Sign language is not performance art [Commentary]

In the midst of the misery of Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the media fell in love with then-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's sign language interpreter, Lydia Callis, who captivated audiences with her expressive renderings of Mr. Bloomberg's humdrum press conferences.

"A bright light during dark days: Bloomberg's sign language star," swooned National Public Radio. New York Magazine praised her as "a legitimate reason to smile" in difficult times. And Saturday Night Live, in a sign she had truly arrived, impersonated her during an opening skit.

Deaf Americans were excited about Ms. Callis for a different reason: They understood what the mayor was...