Note From Uncle Dale: How to Live Forever.

Last night I had the opportunity to see the great Peter Cook and Kenny Lerner perform their poetry performance Flying Words.

It was fantastic. But of course it was, that almost goes without saying.

The room was packed with members of the Deaf community, interpreters, interpreting students, ASL students and their families. It was literally standing room only.

As the program began and Peter and Kenny were introduced my heart leapt to see that the interpreter was one of my former students, now graduated, certified and working as an interpreter at a local college. She was poised and confident and I could not have been more proud.

I looked around the room and saw many of my students, current and former, filling the audience. As I looked at each of them I remembered the laugher and tears I had with each one. Struggles and breakthroughs. Frustrations and insights.

But most of all I could see love. So much love. For each other, for the language, for the community. I am proud of each and everyone of them.

If I am to be remembered for anything let it be for them.

Now. Don’t think that I’m saying I made these interpreters what they are today. I just helped them to find the path and refined the edges.

There is a, possibly apocryphal, story about Michelangelo where someone asked him how he carved an angel from a block of marble and he replied:

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. Michelangelo

I’m not trying to aggrandize myself by saying I am comparable to one of the greatest artist in history. I am simply saying that we talk about him today because he saw the angel and set it free.

I looked at that room full of angels; those who are free and those still finding their wings and I smiled and thought, “if someday, at the end of my time here on this planet, I look back to see what I’ve left in the world for future generations and I see this room full of angels then even when I’m gone I will truly live forever in peace.”

Thank you Peter and Kenny. It was a wonderful show!

Note from Uncle Dale: The Wheel? I’m Pretty Sure That’s Already Been Invented.

Hello! It feels good to be back and typing furiously with my thumbs!

I love working with teams. I always learn something by watching how another interpreter handles tricky linguistic issues or does the simple things better.

There is no such thing as plagiarism when it comes to interpreting. No interpreter has a copyright on a great way to interpret “that” no matter what “that” is. If you see something you can use then collect it for your toolbox and use it when you need it.

Stop looking at other interpreters and wishing you had the skills that he or she has. Figure out what they are doing, that you wish you were doing, and start trying to incorporate what you observe into your own work.

“It’s that simple,” you ask?

Well, yes. And no.

It’s as simple as opening your eyes and ears and mind. But, so many things block our ability to observe and incorporate breakthrough skills we see into our own work.

Number one barrier? Petty jealousy.

As I get older I have to admit more and more that the next generation of interpreters will be better at this than I could ever have hoped to be in my lifetime.

And that is a great thing. They should be better. Their skills and abilities should pass me by. That each generation of interpreters accomplishes more than the previous is good for the Deaf community and good for the profession.

It’s also to be expected because they have something to help them develop their skills that I never had. They have me.

I don’t mean me personally (though I try to do my share in the classroom) I mean they have the wealth of understanding contained within collective experience of my generation like I had the benefit of the giants who came before me. The next generation should build from the beginning on the solid foundation of the mistakes that taught me and crafted me into the interpreter I am today. They should not need to make the same mistakes I made to learn the same lessons I learned (though that is sometimes unavoidable). They should start above the noise and confusion by standing on my shoulders. This leaves them open to learn their own lessons, deeper mysteries of language and culture that I never got to because I was dealing with the lessons this profession had for my generation.

I have grown used to being the one who dazzled by reason the ease with which I handle difficult concepts. It is sometimes hard for me to admit that this young interpreter has produced a more clear concise interpretation than I.

It’s hard to admit that I still have things to learn. And harder to admit that this kid has something to teach me.

But that is the beauty of this profession, if we are willing to learn there is always something we can learn.

Our best resource is the Deaf community. If I have one lesson to pass on to working interpreters it’s this-prosody.

Take every opportunity to observe how people who are Deaf make themselves understood. How do they indicate the beginning of a new idea? How do native ASL users show the end of an idea? I’m not talking about grammar or vocabulary, I’m talking about dynamic functional punctuation.

When we look and really see how people who are Deaf transition between ideas or indicate turn taking or emphasize a point or refer back to a past idea… any myriad of structural linguistic guides that they produce with subtle shifts and facial expressions so naturally that these markers are almost imperceptible in flow of communication, but without which there would be no flow of communication, we quickly see how ham fisted and awkward our attempts to accomplish the same thing using crass signs are.

It’s art.

It’s beautiful.

The economy of movement is inspiring. A native user can often accomplish with a nose wrinkle a meaning takes an interpreter 5-7 signs to produce in equity.

If we look and really see the structural perfection of it all we cannot help but say, “why aren’t I doing that? I should be doing that!”

And we can do “that.” We can do “that” if we are willing to see, process what we’ve seen and incorporate it into our work through applied practice.

There are always lessons to learn. There are always opportunities to be better at what we do, if we are willing to be taught.

Note from Uncle Dale: It’s Time For All Of Us To Join The Fight!

#UtahDeafRights

 

Good enough is NOT GOOD ENOUGH until the Deaf patient says it is!

 

 

 

Rule 744

Don’t ask other interpreters questions you know they CAN’T answer:

“Are you here interpreting?”

“How did your appointment go?”

“Are you interpreting for (insert event, speaker or performer here)?”

Are there Deaf people here?

Have you ever interpreted for (name)?

Uncle Dale at the Utah Association of the Deaf Conference.

Saturday, September 7, 2019, I was honored to be present at UAD’s annual conference in Ogden, Utah.

My workshop was an overview of Federal laws. I present it like each applicable law (the ADA, 501, 504, the ACA and IDEA) or Title thereof (ADA Titles I, II and III) are separate countries and we are all taking a tour and learning the culture and language of each.

This workshop is designed to be presented in a gym or large conference room and it takes six hours (two sessions of three hours each). I map the “laws/countries” out on the floor and the participants physically travel from one “law/country” to the next while we discuss the similarities and differences in each law/country’s history, language, culture, and customs.

It’s a big undertaking.

As you can imagine I’ve only been asked to do the full presentation a few times but each time has been amazing (I am thinking of organizing one for a Saturday in early November at the Utah Community Center for the Deaf and filming some of it so people or groups who are interested can see how it works). The first time I did it I had souvenirs from the different “laws/countries” the participants visited.

Like I said, it’s labor intensive for me to do the full tour and to do it right, but it’s worth it.

Usually I am asked to give a less involved version of it in a 2-3 hour time slot. It’s still a fantastic workshop but I sometimes feel like the participants are taking a tour by bullet-train!

In the 2-3 hour version the attendees stay in one place and I move (if you look at the top of the projector screen you can see one of our “stops” marked out.

This time I had just a little over an hour-so I really had to strip it down. Luckily, Jared Allebest’s presentation covered many of the details I had to edit out for time.

I was thrilled UAD asked me to present because the venue was a little bit of a homecoming for me. The conference room where I gave my presentation was right down the hall from my former office at The Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind.

Back in the 1990’s I was the lead mentor for all of the interpreters working within the USDB system.

By the way, Jared Allebest, the guy I mentioned before, is an attorney who is Deaf here in Utah.

Yes. Utah has two attorneys who are fluent in ASL! (I’m just kidding. Utah actually has FOUR attorneys who are fluent in ASL. Two of us who are solo practitioners, one who works the for state in the juvenile court system and one who works with a firm in southern Utah-it’s kind of an embarrassment of wealth I will admit that).

My next two scheduled presentations will be on October 12, 2019 through Zaboosh on-line trainings. You can get more info here:

https://zaboosh.com/collections/frontpage/products/what-works-october-2019-conference

And

The Colorado RID Conference, October 18-20, 2019, details here:

http://www.coloradorid.org/crid-conference-2019.html

I’d love to meet you so if you see me don’t hesitate to come up to say hi!

Note from Uncle Dale: Transitions (RID Views, Summer 2019)

https://youtu.be/CeNEEwDuT-0

https://rid.org/note-from-uncle-dale-3/

Rule 734

You had a bad day, that doesn’t mean you’re a bad interpreter.

This may apply to you today.

Remember this when it applies to your team tomorrow.

Note from Uncle Dale: The Casual Overstay Is A Dangerous Thing.

I recently heard from a few readers that they were unfamiliar with my early Rules because they jumped in later and it was just so much work to scroll all the way back to the beginning of the Blog.

I agree.

I’ve got to figure out a way to make searching the Blog easier.

Project for this summer. Maybe when I finish the book or any of the other thousand projects I have in front of me.

It will happen. The question as always is when it will happen? I am pretty sure I’m not the only one who understands that feeling.

Annnd back to the point.

I have started with Rule 1 and just posted them in order, like a “throwback-a-day” calendar.

I had forgotten that not all my Rules were posted without some controversy (I will confess I never expected so many people were so deeply invested in saying “irregardless.” Supposably it HAS been accepted as an actual word, but it’s my suspection that most people still agree with me. Grin)

Recently my throwback a day arrived at Rule 15

https://uncledalesrulesforinterpreters.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/rule-15/

The point of this Rule is that when we begin casually chatting after appointments we risk forgetting the reason we are there and that the CPC is still in full force, that it doesn’t matter if the appointment is over, we are still there as Interpreters (read the amazing work of Robert Lee on Role-Space, it will change your life forever). Many of the hardest conversations I’ve had with Interpreters facing ethics complaints start with, “ok, you need to understand, the appointment was OVER…”

Sigh.

I am not saying that you should break eye-contact with the client and run out of the door the moment the appointment is done. As more than one reader stated, talking after an appointment was a great way to network and it shows clients we’re not just there for the money- but are actually invested in them.

The practical upshot of all these reader comments was, “if I am a conscientious observer of the Code of Professional Conduct I can have a post appointment conversation and be fine.”

Which is true.

Well, true to a point.

Absolutely have a cordial and friendly conversation with the client as you pack it up and say goodbye. What the Rule is saying is that chatting about personal things or sharing stories is best done at Deaf activities and social events, not on the back of your work role.

This kind of familiarity breeds a level of comfort that may not fit the role you are occupying at that moment. Getting that comfortable can lead to lapses in your attention as to where you are and why you are there. Again, when counseling Interpreters before ethics inquiries I often hear, “I thought [the client] understood we were just talking and I wasn’t interpreting anymore,” or “[the client] is the one who started asking me questions….”

As with all the Rules, Rule 15 is an oversimplification of a generalized truth. The true story behind the Rule is a cautionary tale of an interpreter becoming too comfortable with a regular client and the profession line getting fuzzy. The result blew the interpreter’s career, family and life apart.

But I can’t tell you that story.

So, I’ll tell this one.

It is based on a story from the Bible.

Don’t stop reading! I’ve used analogies like this before. As always, the religious text is just the structure upon which I am hanging the story, not the point of the story (not preaching… the story just works to make my point). And usually, whether or not you are in anyway religious, most people are at least familiar with the story, so the context is accessible.

This one comes from the story of David and Bathsheba.

The first time I asked my father if I could take the car and drive my friends to a party on a Saturday night he told me I could, if I could answer one question. He asked me, “what was “David’s first sin?”

David? Like in the Bible?

“That David.”

I thought for a second and I told him it was lust.

He asked, “why do you think that? Show me.”

So, I opened a Bible and read Second Samuel 11 verse 2:

“And it came to pass in an eveningtide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon”

My Dad smiled and said, “that is the result of his first sin, but not the primary sin itself. Read the first verse. Everyone skips to the second verse without paying attention to the first verse.”

Ok, I will admit I was intrigued. So I read Second Samuel 11 verse 1:

“And it came to pass, after the year was expired, at the time when kings go forth to battle, that David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel; and they destroyed the children of Ammon, and besieged Rabbah. But David tarried still at Jerusalem.” (Emphasis added)

My father said, “David’s first sin was forgetting the responsibilities that came with who he was, forgetting what he was supposed to be doing and ending up hanging around in a place he knew he was not supposed to be. David was the king and was supposed to be leading his armies. But, he stayed home. He knew wasn’t supposed to be there but he thought, ‘maybe just this once, it’ll be ok just this once’ and the result destroyed his life and shook his kingdom to the core.”

My Father look me in the eyes and said, “David saw Bathsheba and lusted because he stayed too long in a place he was not needed and so he was in a place he should not have been.” Then my father drove the point home. “Most of the real problems we have in life start because we forget who we are and end up hanging around in a place we know we are not supposed to be.”

I got the point. He let me take the car.

So.

Rule 15 is about paying attention to Role-Space. Remember who you are. Remember why you are there. And if your role as an interpreter is no longer needed where you are, Go Home.