Note from Uncle Dale: Millie Continues to ROCK!

A Quiet Place is here!

97% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Number one movie in the country and Millie is getting fantastic reviews.

There is a reason she is! The movie is great and she is AWESOME!

Most important, HOLY COW IT’S A SCARY MOVIE. It is like nothing you have EVER seen. You spend the whole movie on the edge of your seat… listening, oh and holding your breath.

If you have anxiety MED UP before you go!

I am teaching a class this semester called “Visual Linguistic Analysis.” The purpose of the class is to analyze how prosody impacts meaning in ASL (anyone who is fluent can tell you what was said, the skill of an interpreter is being able to discuss why you know). One of the points of analysis we discuss is genres of discourse. One of the genres is “Deaf Gain” or “because I’m Deaf I win.” This movie speaks to Deaf Gain at a level so subtle and in such an imbedded manner that I have not decided for myself if it was on purpose. In the end, who cares! Millie carries the Deaf Gain off with a skill that is frankly stunning.

The funniest thing to me is the main criticism I am seeing is the thing I loved about it; it tells you nothing that the characters would not know. The movie wastes no time explaining why, where or how. I just allows you to watch what the characters do.

I would say “run do walk” but don’t run, just stay on the sand so they don’t hear you, and get to A Quiet Place.


Took my kids to see A Quiet Place in a very quiet theatre!

I can’t wait to see where Millie goes next!

Note from Uncle Dale: Wisdom All Interpreters Need to Learn Before It’s Too Late.

(A story my father told me years ago…)

Once upon a time there was a little bird who decided not to prepare to fly south for the winter.

The bird knew she should prepare, she just didn’t want to.

When all the other birds started to fly south she just sat where she was.

Then it started to snow.

Realizing her mistake she quickly flapped her wings and headed south… but didn’t get very far before her lack of preparedness caused the difficulty of her undertaking to knock her out of the sky. In other words her wings and body froze and she fell down down down until she crash landed in a field and the snow began to bury her.

Suddenly, a cow standing nearby raised her tail and buried the frozen little bird under a pile of steaming manure.

The little bird sobbed to herself. Her foolish choice to fail to prepare and her procrastination had left her to die, frozen, and covered in smelly cow poop.

But suddenly she realized she was no longer frozen.

The warmth of the cow plop thawed her body and the feeling was returning to her wings.

The little bird realized that she was not going to freeze to death and she was so happy that she started to sing.

Her song attracted a nearby cat who dug her out and ate her.

This story has four morals:

1. Sooner or later if you don’t prepare you are doomed;

2. Not everyone who dumps on you is your enemy;

3. Not everyone who digs you out of a mess is your friend; and,

4. If you’re up to your neck in crap, but otherwise fine, SHUT UP!

Note from Uncle Dale: The Things We Almost Never Practice.

I had a student in my office who asked the “right question.”

Most students ask, “what am I doing wrong.” This student asked, “what can I do to make what I’m doing right better?”


The premise starts from the right place. It assumes that she has a strong base to work from (most of my students do) and wanted to make herself stronger.

Here was my answer (it was not what she expected nor what she wanted).

“When you walk into the lab and have no particular assignment to work on, what do you choose to practice?”

She looked at me blankly.

“Do you ever walk into the lab without an assignment? Do you ever practice on your own just to hone a skill?


“Ok, we have our answer. If you want to be ready to certify and to work you have to practice more hours than the assignments you get in class.”

Ok, she said, but what do I practice?

“Ah, your first inclination is to get a text of a hearing person and interpret it into ASL. Not where I would start.”

She started taking notes. Always a good sign.

“Get a text with a native Deaf ASL user and pick a feature of ASL discourse then isolate it.”

Her eyebrows said it all. What?

We practice from Spoken English to ASL all the time, but in doing so we sometimes just cement in bad habits through repetition.

You want to identify good habits and add them into your toolbox. If you want good habits, go to a primary source.

Find a text you have used in a class interpreting from ASL to Spoken English, one you are familiar with and comfortable with. Now put it on and video yourself BUT DON’T INTERPRET IT.”

She sat forward.

“Choose a feature of ASL discourse, a specific marker, like eyebrows or head tilts, and copy everything you see the Deaf ASL presenter do. Just copy it and only it, don’t try to interpret it into spoken English.

Now, go back and review the text and the video of you copying the text side by side (Go React is awesome for this). Were your movements accurate to the native feature you copied?”

She had that questiony look again.

“Now, go back to the source text. What was the purpose of the discourse marker as used by the native presenter EACH TIME IT WAS USED? Was it a transition between ideas? Was it marking a topic? Was it grammatical?

Most important, did you miss any times it appeared?

Now, look at what you produced. Did you connect the purpose of the feature with its meaning when you copied it?

Now, video yourself copying it again, this time with the purpose of the feature firmly in your mind when you do it.”

She had stopped taking notes and was just looking at me with sense focus… still good.

“Repeat this exercise until you feel like you can connect your own copied feature with the purpose for which it is used by the native presenter each and every time.

Next, find a text of a hearing presenter with which you are very familiar and comfortable. Play the text and video yourself BUT DON’T INTERPRET IT!”

I think her head was about to explode.

“Think of the ASL feature you copied from the native speaker. Now figure out how you would apply it to this text. Isolate it from the overall process of interpreting. Hands in your lap. Apply only that feature. Figure out where it would work in transitioning between ideas or where will it emphasize a point or mark a point of discourse. Just that. Hands in your lap.

Now review what you did. Are you comfortable with using that native ASL feature? If not do it again until you are.

If yes, go back to your first sample text and choose another feature. For example shoulder shifting. It is used for ‘role shifts’ but what else can you see it doing?

Do this over and over until you have pulled apart every possible ASL feature in this text in isolation. This could take days.”

She sat back in her chair.

“Then go to your spoken text and begin to add the features in combination, one by one. When you have added them all, then and only them add your hands.”

She exhaled as if she had just done a full day of hard labor.

“Next look again at the native ASL text. How is your understanding of it different now than it was when you started? If I asked you to interpret it from Deaf to Hearing would you make the same choices you would have before you did the isolation practice?”

Is it, in your mind, even the same story you thought it was when you started? Is there more there than you realized?”

She closed her notebook.

“Wait,” I said, “there are a couple of steps left.”

Her eyes rolled. She opened her notebook.

“Go to the last sample of your interpretation of the text from Spoken English to ASL. Now do it one more time using half the number of signs. Review that and do it again using half THAT number of signs.

Now, do it one last time, but this last time you cannot use the sign ‘have’ Not once.”

Her mouth hung open.

“Figure out how to present the information with the ASL features you practiced, using the fewest number of signs on the hands required to preserve the meaning and with the artificial limitation of the removal of and arbitrary sign, the sign for ‘have.’ Figure that out, then come back and tell me what you learned.”

We, hearing interpreters, have a hand fetish. We rarely practice the features that native ASL users employ to ‘make themselves understood.’ We like moving our hands. Put them in your lap for a minute. Practice with your face and body by copying what native ASL users do, in isolation, and it will change your life.

I promise. Put in the work and you will be amazed.

Student, new to the field or twenty years of experience, you will be amazed.

Note from Uncle Dale: Uncle Dale at NAD

Hi. So my friends what are your plans this summer?

I know, I know, you are looking out your window and thinking, “summer? You’re kidding right??” With the Nor’easter (what is it now?? Round Four?) right outside your door, summer feels a thousand years away. But you’ve got to have plans for the sun or you’ll never survive the snow!

I have been asked to give several workshops this summer and I will make some announcements of times and dates as the details are finalized.

My last Zaboosh workshop was Saturday March 17, 2018 (I will wear green).

But, as the title of this Note says, I am thrilled to announce that I will be presenting this summer at the NAD Biennial Convention in Hartford Connecticut July 3-7, 2018.

I am so excited to be going back east to my heart’s home!

In 1994 I spent a fantastic summer at the Mill in Chester Connecticut attending the summer program for The National Theatre of the Deaf. This was a life changing experience learning at the feet of Bernard Bragg, Adrian Blue, Camille Jeter, Shanny Mow, Andy Vasnick, Sandi Inches and so many other giants. I built friendships that summer that I treasure (those of you who wonder if Anthony Natale could really be as kind and supportive as he seems, the answer is yes. He is a beautiful person, inside and out). I plan to sneak away for a couple of hours and walk the streets of Chester once again.

NAD is a combined conference with RID Region I, so I hope to see my Boston family turn out! I miss you all daily! I mean it when I say family.

My workshop will be a “tour” of federal laws set up as if each were a different country. We will learn the “history and culture” of each law. It’s a blast! I hope to see you there!

See the Sights: A Tour of Federal Laws

Dale H Boam Esq.

Civil Rights & Legal Advocacy

Workshop Abstract:

Federal Laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (504) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are complex and confusing. It is vital for both persons who are Deaf and Interpreters to understand the differences and similarities between, and even within, these laws. Its vital to know the authorities through which each was passed in order to know which law applies to any specific situation, how a complaint is filed, what is and is not evidence of a violation and what remedies may be available if a violation is proven. There are so many differences it can be hard to keep it all straight! This workshop is presented as a “tour” of the laws as if each was its own country. “Uncle Dale Tours” lays each out like a map of a foreign land and the participants walk though each, see the sights and landmarks unique to each as well as their shared heritage. Each are issued a passport with certain knowledge points needed to earn a “visa” to the next law. Its equally fun and beneficial for the interpreter and community member.

Workshop Partner:


Workshop Presenters:

Dale H Boam

Dale is a Tenured Associate Professor of Deaf Studies at Utah Valley University and an attorney advocating for the rights of persons who are Deaf. He consults and presents nationally on both interpreting and legal topics, including: The Physiology of Interpreting; The Physics of Processing Time; Cohesion and Orphans in Interpretation; Legal Rights of Individuals with Disabilities: Law, Deafness and Personhood; Vote: The Power is in Your Hands; Making the ADA Effective for the Deaf Community; and Serving the Client Who is Deaf. Dale recently received a favorable decision from the 9th Circuit Court making Section 504 more accessible to persons who are Deaf (See Ervine v. Desert View Regional Medical Center). Dale has advised NAD, the Organizing Board of the 2007 Deaflympic Games and the Organizing Board for Deaf Studies, Today!

Note from Uncle Dale: Sanity or How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away!

There are those who may say I am ill equipped to write on a subject like keeping your mind right. I am the first to agree. Yet here we are!

Now, I am not talking about any sort of clinical diagnosis. I’m not a doctor, nor do I play one on tv.

I’m also not a Saneist. I know many people who have had a label stapled to them that identifies them as existing, in a mental health sense, outside society’s acceptable lines. Many of these friends I believe are just way ahead of the curve in their perspective on how to approach life in general. Who is to say they are not right?

No, I’m talking about how you keep your head in the game for the long term as an interpreter, without burning out.

In a previous Note I admitted that sometimes you just have to walk away. But, there are things you can do short of that to keep your mind, body and spirit in healthy alignment.

First, admit to yourself that this is a highly stressful profession.  It is.  you are not weak of body or spirit by admitting this.  We often stand with our Clients at the high and low points of thier lives and that takes a toll.

Second, remember that interpreting in not who you are, it’s what you do.  See Rule 7

If you make your whole identity “interpreting” then you are at the mercy of forces outside your control. You will have bad appointments. Everyone has a bad appointment sometime or another. If you tie your self-worth to how well you interpret what happens when that bad appointment tries to crush you?

Third, You have to have outlets and interest outside of interpreting. Some should even be outside the Deaf community completely! And before you (Deaf or hearing) think that is me saying that there is something about the Deaf community hearing people must escape, remember that even Deaf people go fly fishing sometimes. Hearing or Deaf we all skip the family party sometimes. It is possible to have a great deal of love and connection with a culture, or family or group or even a person and really just need to spend some time away from them every once in a while. As Aunt SuperTam tells me on a fairly regular basis, “how can I miss you if you won’t go away.” These are little escapes. Mini-vacations for your soul.

How do I escape? Well, recently I have started telling stories at regional storytelling festivals:

Last year I won the title of Utah’s Biggest Liar at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival. I tell mostly stories about my adventures with my Grandfather who was a large animal veterinarian.

Every so often I try out for a play and do a little community theatre:

Boris Kolenkhov in “You Can’t Take It With You”

Cornelius Hackl in “Hello Dolly”

And just this week I got the role of Snoopy in “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” playing in June.

It’s a little escape. A little outlet. A little mini-vacation time outside the world of interpreting. The great part is this “little time away” from the Deaf Community makes me applicate and love it even more when I return. I am more focused, more engaged and it helps me keep my head and perspective in tune. It keeps me sane, you could say.

Maybe AuntSuperTam is on to something. Maybe you can’t miss it if you don’t go away.

Note from Uncle Dale: Year One

Hello everyone! It’s official. This blog is one year old. Since the first post, made from my bed as I recovered from surgery, about 50,000 of you have dropped by about to say hello over 120,000 times.

It’s always good to see you!

I have met a lot of you in person at workshops, conventions and through webinars. I will be lucky enough to see more of you this summer, both nationally and internationally.

We have had great discussions on what it means to interpret, to be an interpreter. We have laughed and cried together as we learn to communicate across cultures.

You have shared the quirks and joys of what we do and thank you for that!

We have talked about how law impacts the communities we serve, how we see ourselves, how we are defined by the world around us and what is expected of us as interpreters

We have looked at skill development as well as personal development. We have exercised our mental, emotional and actual muscles.

This next year will be bigger and better.

The non-profit I am establishing to support certification will be up and running soon, the book is moving along, and the Goddesses will introduce more swag.

Most important, if we do this right, we will learn more about ourselves!

Thank you for everything you are, everything you do and, as always, thanks for stopping by!


Note from Uncle Dale: The Physiology of Interpreting, Balance and a Big Chicken Suit

Way back in 1994, I did not follow my own abridgment of the CPC (See Rule 80) and while interpreting at an all-day appointment alone (“we will give you plenty of breaks…” the break is a lie) I tore two ligaments in my right wrist. It happened at about 1:00 in the afternoon. There was this snapping feeling in my forearm and then it tingled in my fingers, the pain started about ten minutes later.

Oh, by the way I finished the appointment at about 4:30 that afternoon.

That’s not bragging about how committed I am. That is admitting to my stupidity.

Years of physical therapy, weeks in a cast and years and years of better judgment later, it still causes me problems. Again, if you didn’t look at it before, see Rule 80.

Memorize it. Live it.

Years after this incident I had the opportunity to design the course curriculum for the Deaf Studies-Interpreting Emphasis degree at Utah Valley University. I looked at the courses taught at ITPs all over the country and found a hole in the coursework that I couldn’t abide.

There didn’t seem to be any courses that focused on practical self-care for interpreters.

My grandfather used to say if you use a tool incorrectly it will break, but if you use it properly and take care of it, it will break much much later.

We work in a profession where our tools include our bodies and, no matter how careful we are, our tools will break. Hopefully later, much later, than sooner.

I knew my program needed a class that covered the basics of how to postpone that inevitable repetitive motion injury as long as possible. So I used my own experience, consulted with medical professionals, the physical education department at the university where I teach and (pah) The Physiology of Interpreting was born.

The course covers breathing, posture, balance, hand-eye-coordination, sleep patterns, nutrition (because you don’t want to die of heart disease before you have a chance to develop carpal tunnel), we discuss the anatomical structure of the hand, wrist, elbow, shoulder and back. We also discuss early warning signs of the most common repetitive motion injuries, ergonomics, low impact sign production (I should not be able to hear the signs!) we self evaluate interpreted texts to identify dangerous habits and we discuss conservation of movement, rest and exercise.

This class is one of the most fun I get to teach, because there are so many cool ways to teach the basics.

For example, we explore the coordinated movements of the muscles of the hand and forearm by teaching the students how to flip-roll a quarter down their fingers and how to “palm a quarter” like magicians do.

I teach them how to tap into the brain’s ability to predict body placement in space and calculate movement (conservation of movement and hand-brain coordination) by teaching the students how to juggle.

And today we did this!

We use Wii Fit plus to evaluate balance.

Now it’s fun, but I have to admit for a video game Wii Fit is a bit… catty. Sometimes it’s downright bitchy.

When I stepped on the balance board today it went “ooff!” (Seriously? Why you gotta do a boy like that?)

Then it told me I was obese! (REALLY?)

In one clip you can hear it saying, “Measuring, Measuring, Measuring…” one of my students popped off with, “Judging, judging, judging…”

(I will admit I laughed so hard I may have peed just a little.)

We do the single leg balance test:

And we play games that require balance and coordinated movement, like hula-hooping, balance board and my personal favorite-THE FLYING CHICKEN CHALLENGE:

(Three comments. First, this class is taught in ASL but this always elicits some yelling from the studio audience-A little leeway, it was getting way crazy up in there; second the avatar on the screen can be made to look like the student dressed in a giant flying chicken suit (ooooh yeeeah! that alone is worth the price of admission!); and, third, yes, that is my foot and those are Captain America socks.)

Overall this is one of the classes I teach that students come back and rave about after they get out in the field and work for a while; because it’s fun and practical.

I can’t keep them all safe in this crazy world-but I can keep them working without pain for as long as possible.

If you have not paid attention to how your “signing style” may impact your longevity in this profession pause and think about it now. Start with this exercise from the course:

Document your life for one week, be brutally honest with yourself:

Everything you eat-use your phone camera as a way to document everything you put in your mouth from a tic-tac to a buffet. Everything and note the time you eat it;

All the water you drink-get a bottle with measuring lines. Try not to change your behavior but realize if you start to carry a water bottle you will naturally drink more;

Document how much you sleep. What time do you shut down. Not just get in bed but actually try to sleep. If you wake up in the night mark it. What time did you wake up? Catnaps? Mark them.

Record your aches and pains. Do you wake up each day with a pain you ignore? Do you get an upset stomach eat the same time each day? Document when you feel it. If something makes it worse or better mark it.

Exercise. First define what exercise is for you. Time at the gym? Walking to the next class all the way across campus… mark activity, time of day and duration.

Bad habits. So you smoke? Mark each time to take a smoke break and how many you smoke. Weed? Mark it. Alcohol? Mark it. Any chemical enhancement without a doctors note.

Medications. Do you take them on schedule and in the proper amounts? Document it.

At the end of the week look at your documentation. How different is your real life from how you tell yourself it is. What habits should you change?

This gives an honest starting place from which to develop a self care plan. Try it. It is usually shocking… mainly because we are with ourselves all the time but never remember eating that poorly or sleeping that little.

Take a workshop on self-care, or a course on healthy living. Even if you don’t have access to a class like that (or the one I teach), be careful out there, take care of your tools and watch out for each other.

Oh, and ain’t technology grand?! Cluck cluck.


ps. Ok I just had to add this. We did hand eye coordination exercises this week:

And last but not least this nearly awesome moment!

All work and no play!!!