For hearing people, the term “Name Sign” is just two familiar words stuck together to create confusion.
Yes. It’s kind of a weird job.
Interpreters’ two most common afflictions are:
a) Carpal Tunnel; and,
Hello One and All! It’s your Uncle Dale. This morning I was on a Radio Show discussing my concerns with HR 620 (there is actually another Bill that could be just as bad, but it has no text currently-just a name HR 1493) and I realized that I should really take a minute and send out a warning to all of you.
As you may or may not know I have strong opinions about the weakness of the ADA when it comes to protecting the rights of people who are Deaf (I believe the term I used this morning was “barely functional”). This legislation would pretty much end the ADA’s thin layer of protection for the Deaf community.
The bill proposes to change Title III to say this:
(B) BARRIERS TO ACCESS TO EXISTING PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS.—A civil action under section 302 or 303 based on the failure to remove an architectural barrier to access into an existing public accommodation may not be commenced by a person aggrieved by such failure unless—
“(i) that person has provided to the owner or operator of the accommodation a written notice specific enough to allow such owner or operator to identify the barrier; and
“(ii)(I) during the period beginning on the date the notice is received and ending 60 days after that date, the owner or operator fails to provide to that person a written description outlining improvements that will be made to remove the barrier; or
“(II) if the owner or operator provides the written description under subclause (I), the owner or operator fails to remove the barrier or to make substantial progress in removing the barrier during the period beginning on the date the description is provided and ending 120 days after that date.
“(C) SPECIFICATION OF DETAILS OF ALLEGED VIOLATION.—The written notice required under subparagraph (B) must also specify in detail the circumstances under which an individual was actually denied access to a public accommodation, including the address of property, the specific sections of the Americans with Disabilities Act alleged to have been violated, whether a request for assistance in removing an architectural barrier to access was made, and whether the barrier to access was a permanent or temporary barrier.”.
Understand the problems this causes. 1) Right now, often the only reason a company takes any interest in whether or not it is ADA compliant is because if it does not, it can be sued at any minute. It therefore behooves said company to be proactive in its compliance with the ADA. But if this Bill becomes law, no business need worry about investing one moment of thought in its complaince becuase unless and until its get a letter, it has no risk of a suit. If it recieves a letter the business has another four months to address any actual possible changes if it writes a letter back after 60 days. This will effectively end any personal responsibility by companies for their own accessibility; 2) The responsibility on enforcing compliance has, more or less, always been with the persons protected by the ADA (people with disabilities) but now they are turned into unpaid federal inspectors. Not only are they faced with a barrier but they must be able state chapter and verse the specific sections of the law that were violated and verify that they already requested the business to comply (which, if you think about it makes the letter redundant because they have already made the request); and, 3) It is not enough under this Bill for a person with a disability just to have noticed non-compliance or a barrier to access, the persons who are supposed to be protected by the law now must be able to specify in detail how they were actually denied access (this is insidious wording as it goes beyond just the idea that the business was not compliant, a person with a disability must defend that the lack of compliance actually denied them access). Think about this. What other law do you know where in the law says “businesses must X” and you see a business that has not X, but the law is not effective until the business has caused you injury personally by not X.
Think of a business that has exposed wiring but you cannot complain about it unless you get shocked and then warn the business. Or is structurally unsound but is not required to fix it unless it collapses on you. Or has rats running around in the kitchen but you can’t file a complaint unless it made you personally sick. You see a business that is not ADA compliant you can’t file a complaint unless you can show that you needed to patronize that business and couldn’t. Their defense is, “you could have just ordered it online we did not have to serve you.” Even if I see a store that sells something I will need but do not need today, I must go to the store and actually be denied access prior to beginning the process to enforce compliance. Or lets suppose that I want to go to a resort and I can see from the pictures is not compliant, I may not be able to begin the process of enforcing compliance until I go on my vacation because:
a) I have not actually been denied access until that moment; and,
b) I have only seen pictures and my not have a complete idea of the full extent of the violations.
It takes the ability to fix an issue prospectively and relegates it to retroactive. In one way it places other disability groups in the disfavored position that persons who are Deaf have faced since the ADA became a law. They have never had a good avenue to fix an issue before injury under the ADA. But now…
Looking specifically at the Deaf community. If a person who is Deaf has a doctors appointment and requests an interpreter and the doctor says no (we’ll just write back and forth… it’ll be fine I do it with all my hearing impaired patient’s) the Deaf person will currently lose if they sue, because the law does not give them any authority to choose their own auxiliary aid and does not afford a right to an interpreter, only effective communtation (I know you only communicate in ASL and writing has never been effective to you at any time… but who knows this time it just might work!) So the “Futile Gesture” doctorine is all but unavalible to persons who are Deaf (yes, the irony of something called the futile “gesture” doctorine being unavalible to people who are Deaf has not escaped me!) So, the patient who is Deaf must actually go the appointment and have communication fail. Once that is done the person who is Deaf must, of course, request an interpreter again. If the Doctor refuses… NOW the Deaf person can sue.
If the HR 620 becomes law, the Deaf patient can write a letter to tell the Doctor the exact section of the law the doctor violated and then wait four months to see if the Doctor will or will not provide the interpreter before they can sue. That is just as good as taking the razor thin protection the ADA somewhat affords currently and trashing it.
Please write your representative in Congress to say NO to both the ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017, H.R. 620, and the ADA Lawsuit Clarification Act of 2017, H.R. 1493! Look here to download a template letter from NAD (make the changes necessary if you are an interpreter so it matches your role and you can find your Representativehere.
Do it today!
HOWARD: Hi! Some of you may have noticed the trending hashtag: #protectADA. You may wonder why the ADA needs protection. That’s right, right now, there is a threat to the ADA. Some of you may remember my AHA video last September about a House bill, the ADA Education and Reform Act, with a different bill number because it was submitted during the previous Congress term – and it failed, luckily. However, the bill has returned with the same language with a new bill number in this new Congress term. Another Representative submitted a second bill on the same issue. The ADA Education and Reform Act’s new bill number is H.R. 620. The other bill uses similar language and is known as the ADA Lawsuit Clarification Act, H.R. 1493. Both bills are similar to each other and to last year’s failed bill. These bills ask that a deaf person or a person with a disability who experiences lack of access to a business, restaurant, hospital, and other places cannot file a complaint or lawsuit right away. They must first send a letter about the lack of access to the business. The person must send the letter and wait for accommodations and changes to be made. Then if there are no accommodations or changes made the second time, the person has the right to file a complaint or sue. This does not make sense because the ADA was passed in 1990, 27 years ago, and everyone should already know how to follow the ADA after so many years. The bill failed last year yet people are trying this again. We must stop them by letting them know these two bills are not okay. Whether you send via letter, email, fax, or social media – use the template we provide and send that to your Representative. The new template is modified from last year for you to use for the two new proposed bills. Download the template, add your name and edit the text with your information, and send! We need your help to ensure these bills will fail. Congress must know why the ADA is important to us and to protect our rights. #protectADA. Thank you.
Video fades to a soft white background with several different font types showing “NAD” very quickly. Copyright video ends with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) logo centered. Blue text below the logo appears, “A production of the National Association of the Deaf (copyright) 2017 All Rights Reserved”.
Don’t “fact-check” the Client!
Every true story has two parts: the true part and the story part.
(I DON’T CARE that you were there! It’s not your story!)
Hello. My name is Uncle Dale and I spend a great deal of time making myself laugh.
It’s… loud, in my head. It’s loud all the time. It’s loud and sometimes confusing. I have ADHD in Las Vegas buffet size portions. As a result there are many people who find me… well, obnoxious. And they are right, because to them, I am. That used to bother me. But it doesn’t anymore. Because I’m happy.
My wife finds me amusing. I find her smart and creative and… i’ll just say it, wow! is she hot! I just hope to keep amusing her so she won’t notice that she is way out of my league (and I would appreciate it if you don’t tell her because I have been dreading her figuring that out for 25 years!)
I am happy. Generally. No one is happy all the time. But I am getting better and better at being happy most of the time because of two important lessons I am always re-learning.
The first lesson I learned from reading David Foster Wallace:
Because here’s something else that’s weird but true: in the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And the compelling reason for maybe choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship–be it JC or Allah, be it YHWH or the Wiccan Mother Goddess, or the Four Noble Truths, or some inviolable set of ethical principles–is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive. If you worship money and things, if they are where you tap real meaning in life, then you will never have enough, never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly. And when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally grieve you…
Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.
From “This is Water”
I am happy because I choose to be. I consciously, daily and sometimes minute by minute choose to be.
Interpreting does not make me happy. Being a Professor with Tenure does not make me happy. Being a lawyer doesn’t make me happy. This blog does not make me happy (it does make me laugh, which is why I like it).
I enjoy every one of these things-a lot! But, I place upon none of these roles the responsibility to make me happy, because none of them are me. Not one of them are who I am; they are all what I do.
I do them because I love to do them. I do them because I enjoy doing them. But I’m happy all on my own without any of them.
Let me say that again, none of these things are who I am. These things are all what I do.
If you are thinking that right now I’m going to give you some secret of life and tell you who you are, sorry no. Because, how would I know? I am also not you. You are you. Figuring out the secret to your life is the work you do for yourself.
The second lesson I learned from a mentor of mine who was dying of a brain tumor (I know it sounds like a cliché or a the plot of a John Green novel. Steve, my mentor, would have loved that because he loved when life made you into a cliché).
Steve and I were sitting quietly on a random Tuesday near the end of his life when he told me:
Life is like a roller coaster, but not in the way you think I mean that. At any specific point in your life if you ask yourself, “Am I happy? Am I enjoying myself?” The answer is usually no. You have work, and kids, and relationships, and a house to keep up and people who are depending on you.
Life, it’s like riding the roller coaster. If you are standing in line and you ask yourself, “Am I happy?” The answer is no; because you are not on the roller coaster, you are waiting and a lot of life is about waiting.
When you finally get on and the roller coaster starts, if you ask yourself, “Am I happy?” The answer is no; because you are terrified. A lot of life is about being terrified.
When you get off the roller coaster if you ask yourself, “Am I happy?” The answer is no; because you are not on the roller coaster. A lot of life is thinking about experiences once they’re over.
But. If instead of dwelling on a past you don’t have anymore, if instead you look at the whole experience, the whole thing-beginning to end, and you ask yourself “Am I happy?” The answer is yes! Because you rode the roller coaster.
Now, if I was to ask myself “Am I happy?” No, of course not, I’m dying. I’m leaving my family, and my career, and my friends, and my home. But if I step back and look at it all, what do I see? I have a family I will miss, and a career I loved, and dear friends and a home. Even the bills I have had to pay show that I had opportunities and was surrounded by benefits some people in this world could only dream of.
So, when I get off this ride I want my last thoughts to be “wasn’t it great to ride the roller coaster,” and I can walk away knowing I am happy.
Dr. Steven Timothy
My oldest son was born a few days after Steve died. His middle name is Timothy.
I teach a course called Professional Issues in Interpreting. It’s a skills class but the skill is how to live as an interpreter. We cover topics like: resumes, setting up your own business, taxes, negotiation, contracts, invoices, finding jobs with government agencies, state and federal contracts, pros and cons of referral agency vs. independent vs. consortium, panel discussions on an interpreter’s relationship with the Deaf community… and stress and vicarious trauma and perspective and happiness.
Happiness is important for this class. As important as any other lesson in interpreting. Because, as interpreters I think some of us, well, all of us at one time or another, do what we do to prove that we have worth. We serve others as a way of helping ourselves, maybe even fixing ourselves. I have said–in a gallows humor way–that interpreters tend to be trying to fix something that is broken, but are always looking in the wrong place for the break.
If you will forgive me a bit of an affront–this may be too egotistical even for me (and that my friends is saying something!) I would like to add to the words of David Foster Wallace:
Uncle Dale’s addition to Mr. Wallace…Worship your skills and abilities as an interpreter, if it becomes what you are, you will always be afraid of failing at the next appointment, you will always fear and resent the interpreter who is “better than you”, always be afraid of getting ‘caught’ and labeled a fraud.
p.s. There is ALWAYS an interpreter who is “better” at this than you.
I have never met an interpreting student or professional that needed to look for their worth anywhere outside of their own skins. It comes factory installed.
The very best interpreters have stopped trying to attach their happiness to how skilled they are, and they interpret for the love of the work, and the beauty of the language and the thrill of the challenge. They are passionate, they are driven, they are stressed, they are unsatisfied with the status quo and seeking ever seeking improvement, but only for the sake of being better at what they do; because who they are is… happy.
If you just fingerspell the word spurious, it does nothing but show the Client that you can spell the word spurious.
(Well, that you can almost spell the word spurious… you’re looking up the word spurious now, aren’t you.)