Rule 582

Dear Interpreter in the Audience,

It is obvious my processing time is longer than your comfort zone.

Thank you for yelling your support.

Shut up.


The Interpreter in the Chair (you know, the one holding the microphone).

Random Thoughts by Uncle Dale: Birthday Edition

It’s my birthday and I’m taking the day off. Please enjoy these photos of me playing Snoopy in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown (thank you Pepperfox photo).

Tickets on sale at

Note from Uncle Dale: The Parable of Uncle Dale’s Shirt.

It’s finals week!

Now start the days when I get all the questions that students probably should have asked long before now!

For some reason this is also the time of year that I hear from former students. I hear about their successes and fears and big transitions.

This week I got a knock on my door and opened it to a bright and talented interpreter who was one of the first to complete my program start to finish, from ASL 1010 all the way through Applied Interpreting: Legal, and then on to graduation and certification.

Now she is mentoring a few of the newest potential interpreters as they prepare for certification.

She came to talk to me about one of these potentially great interpreters in particular (there is always one in particular) who is exhibiting a habit near and dear to the two of us. This potential interpreter will push on with an interpretation long after she realizes it is an error and try to avoid embarrassment by smoothly finding a way to get back on track or worse just persists in the error if no smooth fix presents itself, rather than admit to herself and her client that she made an error.

Now, this was not a frequent occurrence because she had good training and a strong base of skills. But it has happened more than one time while my former student has been mentoring, so it needed to be addressed.

The reason I said this issue was near and dear to the two of us is, back in the day, this particular former student was the MASTER at, “if it looks like it makes sense, even though I know it’s not accurate, that is just as good… right?” We had finally cured it and so she wanted some guidance on how to approach the issue.

She laughed that my curse on her had come to pass (someday you will work with a team or a student who does this, and when you are sitting in my seat you tell me if it’s ok).

We both laughed actually. Hard.

Then she said, “I know what I need, I need a ‘shirt,’ but I need my own ‘shirt’ not yours.”

I agreed. We set to work finding her ‘shirt.’

If you’re lost don’t worry, I’ll explain.

The Parable of Uncle Dale’s Shirt.

Aunt SuperTam and I met back in high school. From the day I met her I have been impressed with her ability to sew (her current job is as the supervising costume designer at a beautiful theater).

I say I was impressed, but not as impressed as a should have been. You see, my mother sews, expertly, and I have seen her do it and, to my shame, taken it for granted my entire life.

So in high-school when I asked AuntSuperTam to go with me to an event that night and she made a dress to wear that day, I was impressed, but only “ish.”

Until my freshman year of college.

At that time I was a theatre major. In in my first term I had to take a costume design class. On the first day of class the professor announced the final. Each of us would have to sew a shirt with a collar and a pocket. He gave us the pattern, and told us we could make some specific modifications if we desired but it would have to match the general specifications laid out in the syllabus. Oh and we could do it any time we wanted as long as we turned it in by three o’clock on the day the final was scheduled.

Of the 15 students in the class all nine of the women and two of the men had completed the final project by midterm.

The rest of us waited until the week of finals. Well. The day before it was due.

I was not worried. I had seen my mother and my girlfriend whip something like this out in a matter of hours.

To her credit AuntSuperTam sat with me the full 22 hours it took to complete the shirt.

She was mostly quiet, even when one of the other arrogant, procrastinating students threatened another with a seam ripper for changing the thread on a machine while he was in the bathroom.

She guided me, mostly with side-eye, through laying out the pattern and cutting out the components. But as the hours dragged on I started to get more and more frustrated.

Finally, she could stand it no more and she said, “Dale?”


“I need you to stop and look at your shirt.”


“Ok, but stop right now and really look at it.”

So I did. I looked.

She continued, “what do you need that to look like when you finish?”

I grabbed the envelope which had held the pattern, it had a drawing of a smiling man wearing a short sleeved shirt with a collar and a pocket.


In a calm voice she asked, “if you keep doing what you are doing right now will it look like that?”

I blinked back tired tears and said, no.

“No,” she said while handing me a seam ripper, “if you know it won’t look like what need it to look like in the end, no matter how far into it you are, you have to stop, go back to the last place you know you were doing it right, and start again.”


It did not take very long for this bright young interpreter and I to find her “shirt” (we all have one).

We all have a moment where we realize that if we keep going the direction we are going we are not going to get to where we want to be. A moment where we realize that no matter how inconvenient, or embarrassing, or frustrating or exhausting-if we want our interpretation, or career or life to look like we need it to look-it’s time to stop. It’s time to unpick the seems or walk it back to that point where you were on track, and then start again.

Sometimes that can be as simple as taking a breath and fixing an interpretation. Sometimes it means going back and saying no to something you knew you should not have said yes to in the first place. Sometimes it means putting down the project or decision or job or life you have in front of you right now and doing something completely different. Maybe for a while. Maybe forever.

Whatever IT is, ask yourself, “if I keep doing what I am doing right now will it look like what I need it to look like when I get to the end. If the answer is no? Then stop and start again.

By the way, I got a B+. I blame the pocket. The pocket I blame on being left handed (AuntSuperTam let me wade through that small detail myself because it was not fatal to the whole). The fabric I blame on the fact it was 1989.

Oh! And from that day forward I have given the proper respect to AuntSuperTam’s mad skills! No “ish” about it.

Rule 530

We have a last minute appointment, are you familiar with Hamilton?

(By the way, just to head off the CPC discussion that has already started on social media, no I did not interpret for Hamilton. I did, however, go to it with my family and it was AWESOME!)

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: 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 is 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 then 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 that hearing people must escape, remember that even Deaf people go fly fishing alone 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. A Walkabout.

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, a great grandpa and not wedded to the idea of personal safety; which is the basis for a good story.

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, just maybe, you can’t miss it if you don’t go away.