Random Thoughts by Uncle Dale: Dear Police, Please Stop Shooting Deaf People.  


It is not easy to be a police officer.  As I am not a cop I only get that in an academic sense. But I do get it.

It’s not easy to be a person who is Deaf. As I am hearing I only understand that in an academic sense. But to the extent possible, I do understand.

It seems that every time the police shoot a Deaf person (or an unarmed black man for that matter) I am encouraged by some news outlets, as well as by some people I love and respect, to feel more sorry for the hard lot that police officers have to face than for the victim of the police officers’ uncalculated (hopefully) act. They talk about fear, and stress and “tunnel vision,” words that offer no comfort when applied to a public servant we have armed and trust with the responsibility of deadly force.

I hear about split second decision-making being the difference between life and death.  But then I must balance that against arrogance like the police arresting nurses for having the temerity to talk back when ordered to violate the Constitution.

I grew up in a very monochrome world.  The world of my youth was white and so I had a very difficult time mentally processing the plight of being Black in America.  I will admit it never crossed my mind, in any appreciable way, until I went to Wisconsin with a gentle giant of a man. A Buddhist. A Black man.  We were teaching theatre classes in a community program and every time we went into a restaurant it seems they had just run out of whatever it was he ordered. I asked aren’t you outraged? He said “of course, but it’s only food and I will not trade my soul for it.”  He is one of the best men I’ve known.

It’s hard to make the leap from bad service to a bullet.  Especially when, for me, bad service is just bad service, it’s never a statement of hate, and a bullet is just unthinkable-meaning I never need to think about it, because wherever I go I am white.

I lived in Harlem for a short time.  I did not gain enlightenment there because it’s Harlem and the plight is harder to see, oh and I am white.  Maybe that’s the reason I did not have an epiphany living in Harlem.     It may be so obvious there but I missed the point completely… because I’m white.

If I really tried to pin point the time I finally saw it, or at least the hint of it, it was during law school in Boston.  Subtle, engrained racism. I saw it, finally. At first it was still so detached from my day-to-day reality I didn’t connect it. Then I met people that I started to love. People of Color that I loved, and there it was! Institutionalized, casual, pervasive racism directly impacting friends.  It did not start when I noticed it. I started to see it because it weighed down not just people I met, but people I loved. Shame on me for not seeing it earlier.  Not until I “had a reason to.”  I ALWAYS should have had a reason to.

I’m not even sure the exact day it hit me. The day or moment that I realized they are shooting people I love.  They are shooting people.

They are shooting people because of the color of their skin.

This gets me to today.

They are shooting people who are Deaf.

They shoot people who are Deaf not out of any sense of animus (who ever said “I hate Deaf people”). They shoot Deaf people out of fear and laziness.

I love the Deaf Community.  I love their language and humor and inner strength that comes from the fact that just identifying themselves as a culture is an act of rebellion.  Loving their own Deafness is daily sedition. They are cool that way.

You love those you serve.  I love the Deaf Community.

I love Magdiel Sanchez.  I never met him, but I can say without reservation that I love him. And they shot him, because he was Deaf.  They shot him because law enforcement training gives the briefest nod to dealing with citizens with disabilities and even less to people who are Deaf.

A few years ago as part of a case I did a survey of law enforcement policies in my state and found a troubling trend.  Some had policies for communicating with “suspects who are hearing-impaired,” but none had policies for communicating with citizens who are Deaf. In other words if you are only trained to deal with suspects who are Deaf then every person who is Deaf is a suspect.

Mr. Sanchez was not a suspect.  Mr. Sanchez was in his own yard.  Now, Mr. Sanchez did have a pipe.  Mr. Sanchez had a pipe. Not a gun. A pipe. The police officer that pulled the trigger had tried to talk or engage with Mr. Sanchez before he decided to pull out his gun, so he had the time to evaluate the difference between a pipe and a gun.  His partner, having all the same time and information pulled out his Taser. The police officer that shot Mr. Sanchez was not making a split second decision.

The police officer that shot Mr. Sanchez was not making a split second decision.  He had tried to talk to Mr. Sanchez.  The neighbors had time to warn the officer that Mr. Sanchez was Deaf. The second that was “split” was long gone. His partner, having all the same number of seconds pulled out his Taser.

The neighbors were yelling at the police officers explaining to them that Mr. Sanchez was Deaf.  The police officer that shot Mr. Sanchez had all the information he needed to not pull the trigger, before pulling the trigger.  His partner, having all the same information used his Taser.

One officer pulled out his Taser, and the other pulled his gun.

One officer pulled his gun on a man with a pipe while he was being told the man was Deaf, and pulled the trigger because the Deaf man failed to obey his commands.  The other pulled his Taser in order to control the situation if the pipe came too close.

One officer pulled his gun on a non-suspect who was sitting in his own yard because all Deaf people are suspects.

One officer pulled his gun while his partner pulled his Taser.

His partner pulled his Taser.

I’m not a cop. I have never had to deal with split second decisions that could mean the difference between life and death.  But here is the important part.  The part not to miss in this story. The police officer that shot Mr. Sanchez was NOT dealing with a split second decision. He made a choice.  He had a choice, gun or Taser.  We know he had that choice because the other officer pulled his Taser.

The officer with the gun chose to ignore his training on the principle of “situational awareness.” To ignore the information he had access to from the neighbors, who were obviously there before the officer or his gun, and willingly, adamantly provided Intel that could inform the officer’s choice-as it seems to have informed his partner’s.  The officer pulled his gun and in doing so chose to ignore the very idea of protecting the public, even the suspect (who was not a suspect), from harm if at all possible.  He chose to pull his gun because he was scared or lazy or both, but not because it was necessary.

How can I state that it was “not necessary?” I was not there!

His partner pulled his Taser.

Please law enforcement.  Please.

Please stop shooting People of Color.

Please stop shooting people who are Deaf.


Note from Uncle Dale: Searching the Blog 

Hi everyone.  I am working this weekend to make the blog a little easier to search (I am taking a class on it and everything.  The lovely and talented Aunt SuperTam gave it to me for my birthday).

I am adding a search button for vlogs so you can go right to them.  

When I post a vlog I have a blog that gives supporting information accompanying it, of course you can always just watch the vlogs on my YouTube channel without the written support:


Have a good Labor Day!

Note From Uncle Dale: The “O’Hara Scale” for Measuring Epic Advocacy and Argument 

Hello! Uncle Dale back again. Now, I realized it’s been a while since I wrote a Note from Uncle Dale, but a conversation I had yesterday inspired me. It’s been long enough.  Grin. 

I will admit, I have been known to argue every now and again (it’s almost always “now” and frequently “again”). I am an advocate at heart. The lovely and talented Aunt SuperTam will tell you that I long ago blurred the line between arguing professionally and recreationally.  She is probably right (and as Aunt SuperTam says, when I say probably I mean definitely).

So a group of my students happened upon me in an empty hallway and caught the very end of an overly polite discussion between myself and opposing counsel in a case I am working on. 

The only thing the students heard was “of course that’s a threat to sue your client,  if that was not clear I must have said it incorrectly.”  I pointed the students back in the direction from which they came with a look that said “can you find another route, kinda busy here?” They walked away and I finished my conversation.  

Before class I ran into a couple of them and one said “I have finally heard a legendary “Mean Dale Argument” for myself.  

I replied, “Oh, that was nothing. When it comes to argument I have a very well established tool for measuring what is legendary.  It’s called ‘The O’Hara Scale.'”

What is the O’Hara Scale you ask? 

It’s kinda like The Scoville Scale (measurement of the pungency (spicy heat) of chili peppers) but it sets the parameters for what is an argument and what is a legendary argument.

Here’s is how I came up with it. 

Back in the 1990s Stephen King was overseeing the filming of a mini-series version of his novel “The Stand” near where I live.  If you are not familiar with The Stand there is a character who is Deaf, a main character mind you, named Nick Andros.  This was at the beginning of the movement to have Deaf characters played by Deaf actors (Anthony Natale would have been perfect… well maybe he was a little young at the time. But I digress).

Locally there lived a mother of Deaf children named Bronwyn O’Hara.  

I remember quite clearly how vocal she was on the issue. It was a gateway for her own children to see that people who are Deaf can do anything and, well, hearing playing Deaf is just wrong.  It’s the same discussion we are still having about white actors playing people of color or whitewashing roles in movies; ‘playing Deaf’ is just wrong. 

When they announced that Nick Andros would be played by Rob Lowe it caused a great amount of upset here. None more openly than Bronwyn O’Hara.  

Now here is where we get to rumor and conjecture. There is a possibly apocryphal story that Bronwyn, after much… we will call it dialogue or persuasion, got an audience with Stephen King at a group of trailers set up to support the production near our local zoo. Legend has it that it got heated.  Very very heated.  

Like I said, that was the story at the time. But I tend to believe it (if it’s not true Bronwyn I don’t want to know-I like the legend), the reason I believe it is that while Rob Lowe still played the role of Nick Andros, Bronwyn appears to have gotten to Mr. King. She stuck in his mind.  How do I know? 

While Mr. King was overseeing the production of The Stand he was writing a novel titled “Rose Madder.”

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you page 418 of the Stephen King novel Rose Madder!

Yes, Bronwyn’s rhetoric was so skilled that he called her “wonderful,” but so upsetting that he also KILLED HER OFF with a brain aneurysm! Seriously, you have to love the symbolism!!!

I will have achieved legendary argument status when and only when my opponent’s sole recourse and response is to write a novel wherein he or she says nice things about me… and then kills me off!  

That is the top of the O’Hara Scale.  

Life goals.  

Life goals.

Note from Uncle Dale: Why It’s Important. 

Hello everyone! Uncle Dale here.

So today I was reading some comments on a Facebook group for interpreters (the group is for discussions of best practices and resources). One of the interpreters asked a question and many many interpreters answered with statements like “the ADA requires that doctors provide interpreters.” Or “the ADA says they must provide qualified interpreters…”

Here is the problem.  It doesn’t.  No where in either Section 504 or the ADA is there ever a situation where either law says, “if… then you must provide an interpreter.”  No where.

What the laws say is doctors or lawyers or accountants… must provide “effective communication.”  There are certain situations where effective communication could not happen without an interpreter, but that is fact based not a matter of law…

Unless the facts are so clear that it can be decided as a matter of law.  But to make sure you have the facts organized in such a way that an interpreter would be required as a matter of law, you have to understand the law. The whole law.  Not just the parts you want to use to demand an interpreter, but the ways you have to document things and ask for things and which law you want to use in a specific situation with these facts and at that business or agency…

So. My “How to request a live interpreter at the ER” got thousands of views.  “Where do 504s come from” did not. It was 12 minutes long.  It seemed boring.

It’s important.  You should watch it.


Note from Uncle Dale: This is What the Website is FOR!

I know three posts in one day is getting a little excessive. But I looked back and the first day I loaded like 30 Rules. For a while I was doing three a day.  That got a little “overloady” for everyone I think. 

Anyway, a friend just sent me one of those “urgent” emails; the ones with the red exclamation point. The subject line said in all caps “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS?


Did you give them permission to do this?”

The answer to both questions is no.  

But the real answer is “YAY!”  That is what the blog is here for.  This link meets all the criteria I ask. It’s accessible and it cites the source.  

I want this info out there.  So again, “YAY!”

If you want to link for your school or agency please do.  Just make sure you cite the source and are not charging for this information.

I would love a heads up if you link. 


Edit: BTW… thanks for looking out for me!  I do appreciate it!

Note from Uncle Dale: ASLTA

Hello Juan and all (for some weird reason this auto-corrected from “one and all.” I was going to fix it, but in today’s political climate I figured it was time Juan got a special hello!)

The national conference for the American Sign Language Teacher’s Association (ASLTA) has been going on this week right here in my own backyard.  Unfortunately my pesky lawyer job has kept me away from most of the festivities (a mere block away yesterday) so I have had only a few minutes to pop in and reconnect with some dear long lost friends (shout out Marla!).  However I would not miss the closing show!

I will repost this with pictures later. Until then dear readers, if any of you are here at Ben Jarashow’s performance please find me to say hello.  I am dressed so you will know who I am.


There are few people on this earth that can tell a story better than Ben Jarashow! He has us all eating out of his hand (while he feeds us Jellyfish!)

I didn’t even recognize Jonathan Webb!  Warn a guy before you cut your hair!  We had a great talk and I totally spaced getting a pic with him.  RID!  I’ll get one there!

Then I actually got a picture with Missy Keast and totally spaced asking her if I could post it… so I will send her an email and ask.

I caught up with Jeff Pollock (touring around with Liz in the party van).  The picture just kinda came out blurry… or maybe that is just how we look. It was that kinda partying night! 

It was great to see Jim Lipsky! 

And of course it’s always a pleasure to spend a minute with Anthony Natale who is without a doubt the nicest person in the world!

A big thanks to everyone who came up to say hi. The “Damn You Dale Boam” shirt stands out so I’m hard to miss.  ASLTA goes on through tomorrow.  So you still have time!  Grin.

Note from Uncle Dale: A Harsh Examination of the Interpreter  

So, you ask, Uncle Dale who are you… I mean in relation to the Deaf Community.

Good question.  I can only answer for me and certainly not for the Deaf Community.

As I see me, I am a facilitator of communication. I can be an ally, when it is appropriate (sometimes it’s not-sometimes what I see as ally behavior is actually Audism. All of my passion and experience and fluency does not save me from the things my hearing privilege hides from me).

Sometimes… sometimes I am a necessary evil (mental health treatment should not be interpreted–it should only happen directly in the language of the person needing therapy-oh and education. But this is not the world in which we live).

I am not the savior of the Deaf Community. I’m the hired help.

I always remind myself that the Deaf Community was resisting Audism before I got here and will still be fighting long after I’m gone.

I am not needed. What is needed is the work I do.  The work I do is needed and always appreciated, but sometimes the appreciation is… grudging; and that is fine. The Deaf Community does not need to love me AND THAT IS FINE.  I don’t have any say about how the Deaf Community should or should not feel about anything.  I can only make observations on what I see.

There is a level of ambivalence that always seems to exist between me and the community I love and serve. I exist in world where my work is greeted with appreciation and frustration at the same time.

Why? Well. I think of it this way. Imagine that, in order to breathe, you must employ the services of a person who touches the end of your nose-a certified nose toucher.

Now, it may not be that you can’t breathe, but in order to breathe effectively, and specifically at times of stress or when breathing effectively is vital, the services of a professional, certified “nose toucher” is needed (can’t do it for yourself, oh and you have horrible memories of the education system trying to teach you to touch your nose with your elbow, and everyone seems to have a suggestion of installing dubious microchips in your nose, but I digress).

So how would you feel toward the “nose toucher?” You would of course appreciate the “nose toucher” each and every time you took a clear and effective breath. But, you would also resent the fact that you had to depend on this other person for something so basic as breathing, that the world as it is forces this reality.

You would surely be angry each time someone talked to the “nose toucher” instead of you, as if you were unable to think instead of breathe.

Out of necessity you spend time with your “nose toucher,” and so you may develop “a relationship,”  sometimes beyond the realm of “nose touching,” maybe even a friendship.  But, that can lead to problems of its own. A blurry line between friend and professional can be dangerous.

Of course sometimes you will be assigned a “nose toucher” that you just do not like.  That’s a whole new level of frustration.

In the end no matter how much you appreciate the work of the professional, certified, “nose toucher” and even despite perhaps liking some of the “nose touchers,” they are people you MUST be with, not people you choose to be with. Every time they do their job you are grateful for it and also reminded of the fact that you are dependent on them. Appreciation and frustration. Sometimes you just want to go into the bathroom all alone and just choke. Sometimes you would rather just choke.

This is the way I imagine it, but I may be way off. Even if I am exactly accurate in my observations, people who are Deaf have every right to this feeling of ambivalence and it does not diminish the importance of what I do or my love of doing it. For me, recognizing it just keeps my head in the right place so I can do it my job effectively.

Who am I in relation to the Deaf Community? I am as helpful as I can be, as often as I can be. Nothing more nothing less.