Note from Uncle Dale: The ADA, Interpreters and Cultural Dualism.

There exist in America two separate and distinct Deaf Cultures. The organic and the manufactured.

The organic culture developed, well, organically, for lack of a better starting point when Adam and Eve gave birth to a child who is Deaf.

For an interpreter this organic culture is all important because it puts our work in perspective.

Why do we communicate? We communicate so we don’t die. Imagine to Neanderthals crossing a frozen tundra, what would they want to say to each other? “Where can I find safe water?” Or “If I sleep here will an animal eat me?” We communicate so we don’t die. We are part of this life and death process.

Why did Sign Language develop? Sign Language developed because it had to. It is the most efficient means of communicating information visually.

It is necessary to communicate and necessity breeds simplicity.

Let me say that again.

Necessity breeds simplicity.

Sign Language, in its purest form (no matter the host country, in mine it’s American Sign Language) is the most simple and efficient means of communication visually.

Interpreting students often get confused about the complexity of movement, form and meaning, but they don’t need to. It’s not alchemy or a mysterious incantation. It is the simplest, most efficient means of communicating information visually. Don’t make it more than that (that being said don’t ever lose the geeky excitement of how cool it is to know how to Sign. It’s cool. It is!)

The problem appears in the second, unnecessary, manufactured deaf “culture.”

Now we get into my research, not yet completed, but the subject of an upcoming paper. I have touched on it in past posts, most specifically:

https://uncledalesrulesforinterpreters.wordpress.com/2018/09/05/uncle-dales-you-should-probably-know-why-you-know-what-you-know/

I would ask you to read the section of the above post entitled “The Argument” rather than have me reiterate it all here.

This manufactured deaf culture assumes that people who are Deaf are somehow constantly depressed because they yearn to be hearing (see almost everything AG Bell ever write on the subject). I’ve met many people who are Deaf that can list the ways life could be easier if they were hearing, but that doesn’t mean they want to give up who they are or suffer though surgeries or mechanical augmentation for it.

Life would be easier for me if I was taller. But I’m not willing spend time on the rack, have my shins surgically extended or walk with stilts all the time for it.

Hearing and height may be a funny comparison, but the comparison works because world is built by men who assume you are hearing and about six feet tall… and also a man, but I’ve already covered that too.

The problem with the dichotomy of cultures, a problem for both the Deaf community and Interpreters, is that the organic Deaf culture lives in the hearts and minds of the Deaf community and its mores have developed through the realities of their everyday lives while the manufactured deaf culture is built upon assumptions that the majority hearing community can easily digest and regurgitate on people who are Deaf without the need to make any effort to understand if those assumptions are correct or not (the erroneous premise in the hearing mind being “if I was deaf I wouldn’t want to be deaf and so people who are D/deaf obviously don’t want to be either).

The manufactured deaf “culture” is the prevalent view of the majority, “hearing people,” and so will be the starting place for any cultural negotiation.

Cultural negotiations can happen everyday, anytime a person who is Deaf request an interpreter. The problem that we must remember is that the parties to this negotiation are often negotiating from two different cultural perspectives. Perspectives that they each understand to be “D/deaf Culture”-organic and manufactured.

The hearing party in any contact with a person who is Deaf is working from what I call Dysphoric Power. The hearing party have almost all the power but a highly skewed view of the reality of what a person who is Deaf needs because the hearing party’s perspective is filtered through this manufactured cultural lens. A lens that they view as “true” because it matches their worldview.

The practical upshot is we must approach every interaction with the majority hearing community understanding that the discussion is a “two-parter.” First, correcting hundreds of years of manufactured nonsense imbedded in the hearing community as the level of genetic memory, and second, advocate with correct principles.

Easy right?

Well ok, no. It’s not easy. But it’s worth it, because it is literally life and death.

Medical

Legal

Financial

Educational

The majority of the reasons the ADA has been less beneficial to the Deaf community than any other group under its definition of a protected class is that it is written almost entirely through the lens of Dysphoric Power. It assumes the manufactured deaf culture is accurate.

Sigh.

As I said, this is literally life and death for members of the Deaf community.

“But,” I hear you saying, “modeling appropriate cultural norms is the purview of the Deaf community, not hearing Interpreters!”

True.

So, what does all this mean for Interpreters?

In his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People author Stephen R Covey identifies Habit 5 as:

Seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Think about that. It’s a theme to which I keep returning.

Do we, as Interpreters, invest the time and effort required to really understand the culturally norms of the community in which we work?

Not just trite observations on what people who are Deaf do (when you ask a person who is Deaf what they did yesterday, their answer starts with “when I was in kindergarten…”) but a real usable understanding of why the norms of the Deaf community are as they are (people who are Deaf get their information through direct instruction, not overhearing, so they must build context into every discussion in order to make sure the person with whom they are communicating has sufficient background information to understand their true meaning; failing to build this context is considered rude).

True, studied understanding is the only way to overcome the problems created by cultural dualism.

My students hear this over and over, “it’s important to know, but it’s more important to know why you know.”

See: https://uncledalesrulesforinterpreters.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/rule-249/

The only weapon against ignorance is knowledge.

Not rumor.

Not assumption.

Not gut instinct (psst. Especially if your gut is hearing).

True understanding grows.

Just knowing is sometimes enough to help guide your word choice and intonation when interpreting for a person who is Deaf while they explain what being Deaf really means in the face of Dysphoric Power.

And sometimes, just sometimes, that feather like weight is enough to tilt the axis of the world.

Note from Uncle Dale: The Main Idea Is Not The Point.

See how quickly you can find the Main Idea of this Note. Not the Point of the Note, the Main Idea.

Here’s the thing, about this time each semester I start reviewing for finals with my classes. My worst fear each time is that I will ask a review question and be met with nothing but blank stares.

This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

Truth be told, I prefer the the blank stares to the alternative, namely, more than half of my students tumbling headlong into the abyss when they try to answer the question on the final.

I have a Rule (no pun intended) about such things. If one or two students fall flat on their faces when attempting to answer a question that is there own damn problem. Pay attention in class. Take better notes next time.

If, however, IF more than a handful of students stumble off into the brambles when attempting to answer a question on the final, I need to take a moment to review how I phrased the question; did I write it in a way that is somehow unclear or misleading?

And IF half or more of the students give an answer that is, lets describe it as “untethered” from the lesson or off the topic, well, that’s on me (though it can be fun, in my class on applied medical interpreting the students are to watch videos of doctors explaining, for example, how the heart develops or what the kidney does-which is freakishly interesting by the way- or how the lung inflates. I always ask a question on some fascinating point near the end of the video to make sure they have watched the whole thing.

At midterm I asked “how is a buffalo’s chest cavity different from a human?” The answer is human lungs are housed in two separate vacuum sealed cavities in the chest, but a Buffalo’s lungs are both are contained in the same undivided space-so if you shoot an arrow into its chest it dies. One of my students answered “the Buffalo had a larger heart than a human.”

True.

Nothing we had ever discussed…

But true.

So I had to give her full credit for the answer, and change the question for next time. That wording was on me).

What was I saying? Oh yeah!

If more than half of the students miss a question then I was somehow less than effective in my presentation of that principle in class. I have to take the hit on that one, not my students. I toss the question.

What’s my point? Grin.

This week I got the blank stares on a concept I mentioned during the review for the final.

I remember teaching this principle. It was way back at the beginning of the semester. I remember teaching it well in fact. However, I must acknowledge that blank stares are like hips; traditionally truthful.

I asked my students to identify the Main Idea of a text, and they gave me The Point. They all gave me The Point.

The Main Idea and the Point are two very different things.

Never mistake The Main Idea for The Point.

As an interpreter The Main Idea is very useful and The Point is, well, the Point. You have to get there but it will not help your journey.

Don’t get me wrong, The Point is tremendously important to the story, it’s just not all that useful to the process of interpreting the story.

Why is The Main Idea so vital to the process? The Main Idea is the glue that holds the whole story together for an interpreter. It’s a path the interpreter can follow in order not to get lost in the ambiguity of signs with multiple possible interpretations.

The Main Idea can usually be determined very early in the process. Pay attention to key words or phrases that the presenter repeats.

The Main Idea can usually be stated in a genre or grouping, usually requiring only a word or two but becoming more defined as the interpretation progresses.

“It’s a school story, it’s a dorm school story, it’s a dorm school practical joke story…”

“It’s a sales pitch, it’s a software sales pitch, it’s a database indexing software sales pitch…”

The Main Idea becomes your first line of back-checking your interpretation. If you run into an idea that has two possible meanings, one that lives under The Main Idea and one that does not, you have a clear path to follow.

I hear some of you out there yelling, “Wait! What if the speaker wanders out from under The Main Idea? What if the speaker goes on some kind of tangent?”

Oh. If only the world were a perfect place, yet it is not. Sure that happens. But the chances that The Main Idea will steer you in the right direction are greater than the chances the speaker is off on a lark.

Finding The Main Idea helps in myriad ways both working from spoken English to ASL and ASL to spoken English.

It gives you guidance when trying to figure out what the Client is fingerspelling by limiting the possibilities to those that make sense under The Main Idea.

The Main Idea helps you figure out if that thing the speaker keeps saying is the word they mean or jargon with a completely different meaning.

So.

What’s The Point?

The Point is the point.

The Point usually comes at the end. It’s the moral or the story.

The Point says, “and so you should buy this software program from my company…”

Sometimes. Only sometimes. The Point never shows up at all.

But this time is did.

Find The Main Idea and it will get you to The Point.

Note from Uncle Dale: IEPs from RID Views

#uncledalesviews

https://www.rid.org/2018/11/a-note-from-uncle-dale/

Note from Uncle Dale: Those Moments When the Student Loans Are Totally Worth IT!

Recently, an interpreter posted the following to a discussion group on FaceBook:

“I heard this quote today at a conference:

“If you treat me like a number, I will treat you like one, too.”

Interpreters: May your 11:15a appointment tomorrow be with “Susan who is experiencing pain and facing knee surgery.” or with “Tony who is nervous about his upcoming History test.”

Consumers: May interpreter 2518 on your VP call be “Jennifer who is worried about her sick child at home.” or the interpreter for your 3:30p staff meeting be “Joe who is anxiously awaiting NIC test results.”

We don’t have to bear each other’s burdens but we can certainly respect the person behind our daily “numbers”.”

Rebecca Sipe Buchan

I love that!!

I read it and it rang like a bell in my soul.

It also got me thinking of the times when I have been the problem and others when I have been the solution.

Anyone who imagines they have not played both roles while taking the stage in this ongoing melodrama we call “interpreting” lies, first to themselves, then to others.

Mostly though it made me smile. It reminded me of my favorite “right place, right time, right question” moment.

Just to steady hearts-before I posted this I contacted the Deaf Client and sent a copy of this Note for their approval before I published it.

****

A Doctor came into the Deaf Client’s hospital room, surrounded by medical students, and the entire time this “murder of crows” was in room the Doctor never once referred to the Deaf Client as anything but their illness. NOT ONCE.

No name. No gender. No eye contact.

It was as if the Deaf person was no more than a prop to be used to teach a lesson to medical students.

The Doctor, still ignore the humanity of the Deaf Client, began quizzing the medical students on the “next steps.” The medical students began shouting out tests that could be administered to the “illness in the bed” and each were met with a gruff but approving nod or a decimating head-shake of disapproval from the Doctor.

When all of the tests had been discussed, they left- without so much as a backwards glance.

The Deaf Client looked at me and asked, “are they doing all those tests today?”

I just sort of shrugged and replied, “it sounded like it.”

The Deaf Client’s brow furrowed and they asked, “are you staying to interpret for them.”

“No,” I replied. “I have an appointment in less than 40 minutes.”

The furrow deepened. “Will they have an interpreter for me?”

Again, I shrugged, “I’m not sure, do you want me to go get them so you can ask?”

The Deaf Client sighed, “I will tell you honestly, I’m too tired to have that argument,” then the Deaf Client looked at me, “will you go ask and if they are jerks about it find my nurse?”

I told the Deaf Client I would ask and get the nurse if needed, and I stepped out of the room.

The cluster of Doctor and med-students were just outside the next door down the hall. The Doctor was zealously berating one of the students for mispronouncing the name of a medication (I remember that specifically). When he finished I cleared my throat and his eyes zeroed in on me.

“Excuse me,” I said, “I am interpreting for [I made a point to say the Deaf Client’s name] and they were wondering if you planned on running all of the tests you discussed today?”

“Of course.” The Doctor snapped and, one hundred percent true, physically waved me off.

“If you are planning on doing those test,” I persisted, “you will need to schedule an interpreter as soon as possible to make sure one is available at the time you plan to run them.”

I had busted the Doctor’s groove and he did not like it. Not one little bit. “Well go ahead and do that then.”

“I am actually not allowed to schedule from the field,” I answered, “that is both the hospital and the agency’s policy. There are steps that the hospital follows,” I put on my most helpful tone of voice, “If you can give the nurse’s desk a time frame when you will be conducting the test then they can…”

That was just a bit too much for the Doctor. “I don’t have time this,” he snarled, “it’s just some tests and I really don’t see why we would need you in the way waving your hands.”

I smiled as warmly (as I could), “well, you won’t get me. I have another appointment, but you will need someone. Specifically you need to consider if any of these tests require ‘informed consent.’ There is also the ADA and Section 504 to think about. [I said the Deaf Client’s name again] has a right to effective communication…

“OH,” The Doctor’s eye narrowed as he prepared to administer, what he expected to be, a devastating blow, “SO WE’RE A LAWYER NOW?”

I smiled again and replied, “I realize that you were being facetious when you said that, but as it turns out I AM.”

You could taste the awkward silence.

“Um, really?” The Doctor finally stammered.

“Really, really,” I said a little too shortly.

There was another pause, during which I observed the best moment of the medical students’ lives play out on all their faces.

The Doctor composed himself in a flash. “Well,” he stated openly to any audience who happened to be nearby, “well, of course we will get an interpreter for…”

I said the Deaf Client’s name.

The Doctor sent one of the medical students with me to the nurses station to make sure it was all arranged.

I went back to the room and reported back to Deaf Client.

We have chuckled about it ever since.

That. That right there made the hardest parts of law school worth it. Every. Last. Minute.

Note from Uncle Dale: The Lawyer Who Refused to Pay Young Uncle Dale; A Story With A Happy Ending.

Sixteen minutes ago I received a reply regarding:

https://uncledalesrulesforinterpreters.wordpress.com/2017/06/04/uncle-dales-you-probably-should-know-agreements/

The reply was from Marissa who wrote:

It’s someday, I’m asking about the lawyer that refused to pay…with the happy ending.

In the middle of the post I attached above there is and asterisk. The asterisk refers to a “post-script” in which I promised that I had a story with a happy ending that I would “someday” tell.

Marissa is right. It is someday. So here you go Marissa.

Many many years ago when I was a young interpreter (shortly after the earth cooled and carnivorous Thunder Lizards were still a common problem with the morning commute) I got a call from an attorney’s office.

This office was seeking, “a person to use Sign Language for a potential client.” The lawyer (I was in fact talking directly to the lawyer that first time) made a point of telling me, “I don’t think this case is going anywhere, but this hearing impaired guy won’t calm down about it.”

I got the date and time and then said, “You understand that I charge $10.00 per hour with a two hour minimum” (not a joke. It was the going rate).

“Uh-Huh,” the lawyer replied.

And just like that I had scheduled one of my first freelance appointments.

On the agreed day and time I showed up at the attorney’s office and interpreted for a little under an hour and a half.

I went home and sent my bill. About six days later I got a letter from the Attorney’s office which contained only my bill with the word REJECTED written across the length of it, corner to corner, in red marker.

So I called the lawyer and asked him what he was playing at.

“We never agreed on Terms of payment,” he said, “we had no ‘meeting of the minds.’

I was confused. I said, “we agreed on $10.00 per hour with a two hour minimum.”

“No,” the attorney replied, “you asked me if I understood that that is how much you charged and I acknowledged that I understood. I never agreed to pay it.”

I had to admit, he was right.

I was about to argue anyway, but he said, “son, if you think you are going to argue this point with me remember I’m a lawyer, I do this for a living, take the lesson and walk away.”

So I did. I walked away a little poorer, but wiser.

But then, three weeks later, my phone rang.

It was the lawyer’s assistant. She informed me that the Deaf Client’s case, rather than being nothing, had turned into something. Something BIG.

They had to secure a sworn statement from the Client and have it file by 5 o’clock that day. There would be a person coming to take the Client’s statement in about an hour. She also told me that the Deaf Client was insisting on the same interpreter for this as I was already familiar with the subject matter and facts.

They wanted to schedule an appointment with me!

I pondered that for a second. Then I asked to speak to the lawyer. She told me he was very busy. I told her I was too, but I had taken the time to answer when she called to bother me.

She did not like that.

I then informed her that I planned to yell at someone. I had nothing against her personally, she seemed to be great at her job and appeared to be good with people, but I intended to complain. Loudly. Angrily, and without regard to the niceties. She could choose to be the target of what was shaping up to be a very ugly half hour to an hour of her life, or she could connect me with the person at whom I really wished to yell and avoid all that unpleasantness in her day.

She asked me to hold please.

In less than thirty-seconds the lawyer answered the phone, fully tuned-up:

L: ARE YOU THREATENING MY ASSISTANT.

UD: Yes. Thank you I’m glad she felt threatened. Means’ I did it right!

(That stopped him)

L: My assistant will schedule you and…

UD: That’s not why I’m talking with you. So listen carefully, you want me there this afternoon. Yes?

L: Yes?

UD: Then this is what will happen. Payment for today will be set in the same manner I explained previously; Ten dollars per hour, with a two hour minimum. Do you agree to these Terms?

L: (you could hear the smile right through the phone) Very good. You learned. Yes, I agree to those Terms as you stated them.

UD: When I walk in to your office there will be two envelopes on the receptionist desk, both will have my name on them and the first will be identified with a number one and the second with a number two. Are we agreed on the Terms thus far?

L: Yes.

UD: Inside the envelope marked number one will be a Bank Cheque or cash in the amount of $20.00. This will pay for our previous appointment.

L: Son that is dead and gone…

UD: And miraculously it will rise again, in an envelope on your receptionists desk, in a little over one hour’s time. Do we understand each other.

L: Uh-Huh.

UD: Do you agree to all Terms as I have stated them?

L: And if I don’t?

UD: Then find yourself another boy. You have about an hour. Good luck.

L: You know you have me over a barrel.

UD: I learned from the best. Do you agree to all the Terms thus far as I have stated them?

L: Yes.

UD: Good. Now in the second envelope will be a Bank Cheque or cash in the amount of $20.00 to cover the two hour minimum for today’s appointment.

L: But what if taking the statement requires more than two hours?

UD: When I arrive I will pick up the envelope marked “One” and put it in my pocket. I will leave envelope number “Two” in the receptionist desk. At the conclusion of today’s meeting, if it is less than two hours, I will take the second envelope with my payment inside and leave. If it goes past the two hour mark I will charge, and you agree that you will pay, $10.00 per hour (beyond the two hour minimum you have already agreed to pay) divided into quarter hour increments. Before I leave your office you will either: secure a new Bank Cheque for the proper amount to pay me in full for today’s appointment; or, you will pay me the difference between the payment held in envelope “Two” and the amount I’m owed in cash. Do you agree to all the Terms as I have stated them?

L: I’m not comfortable with the second envelope.

UD: I am not negotiating, I am laying out Terms. It’s take it or leave it time. So. Do you accept all the Terms as I have stated them?

L: Yes.

UD: Good. Then I will be on my way.

So I drove to the Attorney’s office and on the receptionists desk was one envelope with my name on it and the date of the previous appointment.

I picked it up, I put it in my pocket and I left.

This was in the days before cell phones. So when I got home there were already a couple of messages from the receptionist and the phone on the wall in my kitchen was ringing.

When I answered the phone the lawyer was already yelling and demanding to know where I was.

UD: You cancelled today’s appointment.

L: Who cancelled it?

UD: You did. When I walked into your office there was only on envelope. You violated the Terms of our agreement so you cancelled the appointment.

L: I never agreed to that!

UD: But you also never added your own Terms. I just said that I was not negotiating my Terms. I never said you could not insert your own. Had you wanted a clarification of the results of any person’s violation you could have inserted it.

(Silence)

L: Will you please come back I will have the second envelope ready…

UD: You mean along with the new envelope, let’s call it envelope “Three”?

L: I don’t follow?

UD: The payment for today’s second appointment. I came to the first appointment and, if you remember, you agreed to a two hour minimum. Meaning when you cancelled the appointment you still owed me for showing up. So the envelope from today’s first appointment (number two) and the envelope containing the payment for the appointment you are currently asking me to come to your office and interpret. That is a new appointment.

(Long pause)

L: You learn fast

UD: Take a lesson old man.

*****

When I got to the lawyers office there were two envelopes.

I worked the entire case under the same Terms.

When I applied for law school the attorney wrote me a letter of recommendation.

There you go Marissa. Enjoy.

Note From Uncle Dale: Because You Have Been Given Much You Too Must Give.

The title of this Note actually comes from a song I learned in church as a child.

Now, if you are concerned that I’m going to get all religiony or preachy with you don’t be. The religious song is just the framework, the structure upon which I can hang my point. As for preachy?

Well, preachy is a matter of personal interpretation.

One persons preachy is another persons useful advice (I think it depends on how the “advice” pokes your heart and mind. If it assures you, that’s one thing, but if hurts a bit or makes you think of a habit you already knew you needed to change, that is what most people call preachy).

Before you give into the temptation to think that the title of this Note as telling you that you need to volunteer more, of course you do, that’s not exactly my point.

The first verse of the song talks not about giving as in giving away, but about giving in the way of sharing:

My glowing fire, my loaf of bread, my roof’s safe shelter overhead that he too may be comforted…

Share.

Share what you have been given. And make no mistake, you have been given much.

Sometime, somewhere, someone pulled you aside and said, “I have something I can teach you that will make your journey smoother than mine. It will not make everything easy for you, but let me make it easier for you than it was for me.”

That mentor, hearing or Deaf, was given much and so they gave. Because they gave, you have something to give now.

It takes nothing away from you to help another interpreter get better at what they do. When you give of your time, energy and skill to lift another it improves the profession as a whole and opens doors for the Deaf community.

In the end it makes you better at what you do. You never really have a skill locked down until you teach it to another person.

Develop a true desire for the next generation of interpreters to be better, more skilled, more able than you ever hoped to be, ever dreamed of being and you will achieve more than you can imagine.

You may think, “but I am just getting the hang of this myself…”.

You have something to offer even if you think you don’t.

I make a joke when I teach, “what is the difference between a teacher and a student? One chapter.”

You have something to offer. Even if it seems like a little, it means a lot.

You have been given much and so you have something to share.

…I will give love to those in need, I’ll show that love by word and deed, thus shall my thanks be thanks indeed.

Give back to the community that has given you so much. Give back in large and small ways. Give back in word and deed.

“Now,” you think, “now he is talking about volunteering.” Well of course you should volunteer. But that is still not exactly what I mean.

Think about where your skills and abilities are needed most and take them there.

Xenia Fretter said it best I think. “Sometimes,” she said, “we should choose to take the 2 hour appointment where our skills are needed over the all-day appointment, that pays better, but doesn’t require any specific skill or experience.”

Because we have been given much we should consider where we are needed most, not just what pays the most.

We must seek for a Deaf-heart. If you know the term but don’t know exactly what it means then that is your next mission.

…because I have been sheltered, fed by thy good care…

Each of us, at one time or another, has been sheltered and fed by the good care of another.

I will never forget, so many years ago, when I showed up at an appointment and realized very quickly that I was in over my head.

Then my team showed up.

I took a risk and shared my fears with this wonderful, kind, experienced interpreter. She looked at me and asked, “why do you think you’re not ready for this? If you think you don’t know enough ‘Signs,’ you do. It’s not a vocabulary test. If you think you don’t have the skills, you do. I’ve seen your work. I asked for you as my team. What you don’t have is the experience. You get that today. So, take a breath and do your best work. I’m not going to let you fall on your face. That would not be fair to the Client or to you.”

At that moment she literally took ahold of my chin and gently turned my face and looked me in the eyes. “You go and do your best work. Not good work or great work. Your best work. Work harder than you have ever worked. I will take care of the rest.”

I ran into this great interpreter a few months ago at a conference and asked her if she remembered that day. She laughed and said, “I gave that speech to you? You? I’ll take your word for it because I gave it a lot, but I don’t remember giving it to you” (then she laughed and said, “when you use this for your blog don’t mention my name, it will ruin my reputation as a mean ol’ lady.”

You’re secret is safe. Mean mean mean that’s what you are. Grin).

I have been sheltered and fed by the good care of so many others. In that way I have been given much so I too must give.

(Ok I totally have to digress here. A while ago I was in court as the attorney and in walked the interpreter; one of my former students. She stopped and this look of fear crossed her face. I greeted her and she was obviously nervous. I pulled her aside and asked if she was ok. She stammered our that she did not expect it to be me she was interpreting for. I gave her a version of the speech above tailored to her current situation.

I ended by reminding her that she was not interpreting for witness testimony, the Client was in the gallery watching me argue a motion on their case and I knew she had the skills to do this BECAUSE I TAUGHT HER TO DO IT!

She did a fantastic job.

When the hearing was over I talked with my Client for a minute and looked around but the interpreter was gone. I walked into the hallway found her sitting on a bench in a secluded corner near the restrooms, crying.

I sat down and put my arm around her and said, “you were fantastic! I’m so proud of your work.”

She looked up at me and said, “you were so mean! I’ve never heard you speak to people like that. It was so mean!”

Um. You can’t prepare them for everything I guess. I don’t remember that hearing being particularly contentious, but lawyer Uncle Dale is apparently different from Professor Uncle Dale.)

Because I have been given much, I too must give. Thank you for reading this Note and in doing so helping me to give. That is my last point. Part of giving is receiving. People can’t get the benefit of giving if we are not willing to receive.

Let people serve you. Let your peers lift you up and support you along the way. If you do you are really helping them as well.

We need each other. Now more than ever in my memory. We need to serve and accept service. If the horrors of the recent months of my life taught me anything, they taught me that. Sometimes the best service we can give is to accept service from others.

We must give, if for no other reason than to show thankfulness for all that we have been given.

And make no mistake. Each of us has been given much.

Note from Uncle Dale: Use of Space as an Analysis Tool Or Arts And Crafts For Understanding.

Hi. Uncle Dale here.

It’s been a while since I gave you a skill development tool. This one requires supplies, but it’s worth it.

Listen to the text below:

Scary?

My class thought so (apparently, I am “mean” even though I let them play with toys… wait for it, I’ll explain).

I will admit the point was to shake them up a little… but in a good way, a kind and loving boot to the brain, tap you lightly with a sledge-hammer kind of way.

Before you decide that you really just don’t like me, let me tell you a secret.

If you understand one term, just one single key word, in this text, you can use that as the anchor to simplify the whole meaning, by seeing how all the pieces attach to that key concept and fit together physically. If you start from that key term, then in your head you can work through the meaning of rest of the text.

In other words, by using space properly and according to its linguistic function in ASL you can, on the fly, connect things you don’t understand to things you do understand and voila! You understand it all.

If! And only if, you understand the key term.

For the text above the term is: “Fields.”

If you understand what the term “Fields” means in the context of this computer program then you can visualize everything that proceeds from the core concept of “Fields.” If you can visualize it, and then put it in its proper space, its meaning will become clear to you as you use the space in the linguistically appropraite manner for ASL.

Let me say that again.

If you use space in the correct way it will help you analyze the meaning of the information you are processing even if it sound too complex to comprehend.

In the case of the text above you just have to see in your head how software programs like this work, as if they existed in and occupied space in the real world. The easiest way to teach yourself to do that involves Arts and Crafts.

And it all starts with the key to understanding your starting place; “Fields.”

Got it?

“NO, WAIT,” you cry, “I ABSOLUTELY DON’T ‘GOT IT!'”

Ok, calm down. let me back up.

First, relax.  I know that showing up at an appointment where they say, “ok, were going to train you on the new accounting software today…” makes you want to yell, “I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT ACCOUNTING OR ACCOUNTING PROGRAMS! I SMELL TOAST!” and collapse to the floor.

But before you abandon all hope let me give you some persective.

They did not say, “today we are going to discuss accounting programs,” They said, “today we’re training on the new program.”

That means there is an old program.

That means there is a strong possibility that your Client is already familiar with computerized accounting programs generally because they used the “old program.” At least more familiar than you are. Never underestimate the benefit of a client who knows more about the topic than you do. It covers a multitude of sins.

Second, you know what accounting means so you have the bare minimum of a schema, and that is all you need here.

So let’s get back to “Fields.”

In computer programs “Fields” are places where you put variable values of information in order to complete a sequence.

In other words they are the blank places you type stuff into in order to tell the computer to do something with the words or numbers you typed.

Think of a Google search.

The place on the Google search page you type the words “Does this look infected to you” before you push the “search” button? That is a “Field.”

Once you have typed, “what’s a good place to eat on a second date” or “what is Uncle Dale smoking” into the “Field” and pushed “search” (or I’m Feeling Lucky if you’re a reckless adventurer) the information you typed into the “Field” tells Google to do something; go out to the web and fetch things with words that match this stuff I just typed in this box.

So, how does that possibly help you analyze for meaning?

Like this:

Although software programs are just ones and zeros, if you, the interpreter, can see the software’s functions in your mind as physical locations, occupying a three-dimensional landscape (think of the movie TRON if that helps), then you can organize all that seemingly complex jumble of data points into usable locations within your own interpreting space.

Once you’ve done that then it’s just a matter of referring to the objects that you have appropriately placed within your signing space to establish what Carol Patrie calls, “relationships” (logical, temporal, and physical).

Relationships show the order of, or connections between, the landmarks you established within the three-dimensional “computer program space” you created. You got this!

You will eventually want to do this in your head. But it is easier to start out by doing in real space.

Ok. So here is a little exercise help you take it out of your head, put it in real space, so you can put it back in your head.

In order to play along at home you will need the following:

A good sized long table;

Two wire framed office baskets;

Three different colors of string, yarn or tape:

A set of large post-notes;

A set of small post-it notes (at least three different colors); and,

Markers.

Here is how you play:

Before there was Direct or Private messaging there was text and before that e-mail and before that faxes and before that intra-office mail and before that pneumatic tubes.

Pneumatic tubes? Think of the drive-up window at a bank, or an old movie. You put the stuff in the tube and seal it (papers, money, pens… that kind of thing). Each tube in this case goes not only to a different room in the office, but to the desks of specific people. One set of tubes connects to every desk, another only to select persons.

We could use text or email for the visual but pneumatic tunes are easier to visualize and, let’s be honest, sort of steam punk and fun.

So, pneumatic tubes.

Imagine a room in an office building with the where the pneumatic tubes start.

At one end of the table in front of you place the wire “in/out” baskets, side by side. Using the 3×5 cards and a sharpie (marker) label both baskets “Payroll Fields” and label one Flat Rate and the other Calculated Rate.

At various places on the table place 3×5 with Employee 1, Employee 2, Employee 3… up-to at most Employee 6. It’s easiest if you tape them down.

Now take the different colors of string or tape. Using one color of tape or string for each in/out basket connect each in/out basket to All Employees and using different colors of tape or string connect each in/out basket to Some Employees.

These are the pneumatic tubes. Some things put in the in/out basket will be sent to all the employees and somethings will only be sent to select individual employees.

These baskets are “Fields.” Some of the things you put in the “Fields” will be attached to all employees and some of the things you put in the basket will connect to only some employees.

Using tape make a square on the table around both in/out baskets. Label that square “employee defaults window.”

Ok ready, replay the audio above (For some reason when I imbedded this the captions don’t work-hearing interpreters and CDI’s should do this exercise together until I can post a transcript) and see if what you have on the table helps you follow the narrative more clearly.

Now every detail you need is not here yet. But I have given you the start. For example:

You will eventually need two 3×5 card labeled “maintain employees and sales reps” at the place where all the “pneumatic tube” hook to the in/out baskets.

When you get to the payroll taxes you will need two 3×5 cards, one labeled State Tax and one labeled Federal Tax. Where do these formulae live? In the wire in/out basket market Calculated Rate.

Oh oh we have a problem. What if we subscribe to the Peachtree Tax Update Service? Where does that live? Take a 3×5 card and write Peachtree Tax Update Service and place it… somewhere else. It does not live in the software program-you get it from the Peachtree server. Set the 3×5 card somewhere and then, using your tape or string connect it to the Calculated Rate basket on the opposite side from the “pneumatic tubes” to remind yourself that this is coming in from the outside.

If you get really ambitious you can write Peach-tree Maintained on the tape or make a label for the string coming into the back of the Calculated Rate in/out basket.

Now the text above. Anything you put in the in/out baskets travels along the string or tape (pneumatic tubes) to impact the paychecks of the employees at the other end–some will impact all employees and some will only be sent out to select employees.

If this all seems confusing or too much, that is because you are reading this Note and not actually doing the arts and crafts project.

Do the project.

It will freak you out just a little how much more you understand if you see this all existing in actual physical space.

The use of physical space is a component of ASL grammar, but correctly applied it is also a functional analysis tool.

I make students draw pictures, play with dolls and Fisher-Price Little Town sets and a whole host of other physical exercises so they can visualize Physical, Temporal and Logical Relationships.

If you are just starting out or if you have 25 years under your belt, try coupling your practice with an arts and crafts project like this.

You will be amazed at how much it helps you understand if you are willing to take a minute on playing with dolls or just good old fashioned arts and crafts.