Note From Uncle Dale: Go Somewhere

I’m sitting in the Charles DeGaulle Airport in Paris on my way to Malta for a week (look it up. Grin).

Being on a trip like this always gets me thinking about all I learn just being in “not America.”

How we got to Malta is a little bit of a story in and of itself, but, in a rare moment of self-editing I will not tell it here, because if I do I will never get to the reason I sat down to type this out with my thumbs in the first place.

Suffice it to say it had a lot to do with never having met anyone who had been to Malta. As my Note will hopefully emphasize, that is reason enough to go almost anywhere.

Now, the Note I sat down to write.

Years ago I hired a former student to be a Lecturer in my program.

I was thrilled she accepted the position (I firmly believe the strength of a program can be measured by how many former students you would love to bring back to teach).

She was an amazingly gifted student (and has gone on to become one of the finest Interpreters, and in all honesty, one of the finest people I have ever had the pleasure to know).

As a student she had one quirk that caught me off guard. One day in class she told me that she would never work in VRS interpreting.

I agree! because my ADHD CANNOT abide a cubicle.

That was not her reason.

She did not want to work in a VRS setting because “ASL from East of the Mississippi scared her.” It scared her BAD.

I couldn’t let that lie now could I.

Quite literally I picked up my cellphone and called Anne Leahy in Washington D.C. I said, “Anne I’m sending you someone you need to teach how to walk on hot coals, she has all the skills but she doesn’t know how tough her feet are” (not the last time I’ve sent Anne someone with skills o’ plenty and let her take care of the confidence part).

Anne brought out the best in her and sent me back an amazingly well rounded interpreter.

She certified before she graduated and charged out into the world to get some real experience.

A few years later I got approval to hire a Lecturer for my program.

When my former student applied I was thrilled! She was as amazing a teacher as she was at everything else.

The next summer I was invited to CIT in Puerto Rico and I asked my former student, now colleague, if she would like to go as well.

She was nervous.

“I’ve never been out of the country,” she said.

“And you still won’t,” I replied, “Puerto Rico is part of the United States. They use the dollar and have Walmart’s and stuff. You don’t even need a passport” (which is good because she didn’t have one).

She felt better. Somewhat. I mean when you think about it Puerto Rico is waaaay east of the Mississippi.

So. Off we went.

When we landed I dropped her off at her hotel and checked into mine then I picked her up and we made plans for the first day of the conference in the lobby of my hotel. When we finished I suggested we get something to eat.

Now, I have a friend who was born and raised in Puerto Rico and I asked her what is “not to be missed” as far as local food.

“Mofongo,” she said.

So we walked over to the concierge and asked if there was a place near the hotel where we could get Mofongo.

“Yes!” she said, “there is a great place within walking distance.”

At that moment felt a hand in the middle of my chest and my former student, now university colleague, pushed me backwards, leaned into the the concierge and asked, “have you ever actually eaten Mofongo? I mean, what’s it like?”

The concierge looked at her kindly and said, “that is kind of like me asking if you’ve ever eaten a turkey dinner. Yes, it’s the national dish.”

I reached forward and gently took a hold of her ponytail and pulled her backward as her ear passed my mouth I whispered, “we need to talk.”

I got the address for the restaurant from the concierge and we started walking toward it.

“Where to begin?” I thought. I cleared my throat and said, “my father once told me if you haven’t had a parasite at least once in your life you have not eaten enough interesting things.”

She stopped and looked at me just as you are imagining she looked at me and said, “ok that’s crazy.”

“Maybe,” I replied, “but here is what is going to happen tonight. You have a per diem for meals from the university. We are going to this restaurant and ordering Mofongo and you are going to try it. If you legit don’t like it I will spend my own money to buy you a Subway sandwich. Deal?”

“Deal,” she sighed. And off we went.

For anyone who doesn’t know Mofongo, it is mashed plantains fried crispy and smothered in stewed meat. It. Is. Fantastic.

She loved it. She ordered it everywhere we went for the rest of our time in Puerto Rico.

While we were sitting at that very nice cafe in San Juan, eating delicious food, I asked her a question that had been elbowing its way to the front of my mind ever since I first asked her if she wanted to go to CIT.

“You don’t have a passport?”

“No,” she replied, “never needed one.”

“You should get one.”

“Why?” she asked, “I’m not planning on going anywhere.”

“You need a passport,” I explained, “for the same reason that I think golf would be a much more interesting game if they just added a penalty box. They don’t have to change the rules at all-just add a penalty box. The fact it is there will inspire its use.”

She looked at me puzzled. It was not the first time and has not been the last.

“Think,” I explained, “you’re not planning on going anywhere and maybe it’s because you don’t have a passport, but, if you had a passport you would be inspired to use it!”

“I don’t know…” but she was thinking about it.

“Look at you right now. You’re stretching your experiences. You are in your twenties, you have a job that gives you some disposable income, you will never be this mobile, this free in your life.” I made eye-contact. “Get a passport.”

And she did.

Since that meal of Mofongo in Puerto Rico she has been all over the world. She has been to Russia, Thailand, and more countries in Europe and South America than I could possibly remember. She is no longer a Lecturer at my program, she has gone on to do phenomenal work in every area to which she sets her hand. And she has used her passport (I actually called her to see if she could cover some classes for me for during this trip and she was in Lisbon).

The point is she will tell you that each one of these trips has made her a better interpreter. Each has added to her knowledge base. Each one has expanded her cultural awareness and expanded her mind to the diversity of ideas. She has a better understanding that I do of what makes it easier and harder to navigate in a culture that is not your own using a language that is not your own.

She was already awesome and these experiences made her better.

It’s Awesome Gain.

So, here I am now I’m sitting in a cafe called Xemxija on the island of Malta. I took my own advice.

Why Malta? Do you know anyone who has been to Malta. Now you do.

What do you know about Malta?

Well now you know about this^^. This is the oldest know human manipulated edifice on earth. It is literally the first stone they know of on the planet that someone, or more likely, some group of people said, “we should pick this stone up from here and place it, in a very specific way, right there.”

It’s the pillar of the Skorba Temple. It’s older than Stonehenge and predates the pyramids by thousands of years.

This is the only painting Caravaggio ever signed. It’s here on Malta (there are actually two other Caravaggio paintings on Malta).

From what I can see the ADA has not made its way to Malta, but I’ll ask these folks about it tonight.

In Thornton Wilder’s famous play ‘Our Town’ Mrs. Gibbs pines for the experience of going to – ”a country where they don’t talk in English and don’t even want to” 

Every interpreter should pine for that same experience. It will make you a better interpreter and a more well rounded person.

Get a passport.No matter your age or place in life-get a passport and let it inspire you.

p.s. Before I published this I sent it to the interpreter it is about. She asked me to quote her:

“Meeting Dale Boam changed the trajectory of my life. He was the first person to see the light inside me and demand that I stop playing small. I never knew that life outside of the comfort zone would be so worth it.”

UD

Note From Uncle Dale: ASL to Spoken “Hearing.”

The new school year begins and I get to teach one of my favorite courses this semester (I know I say that a lot, and every time I say it, it is true!), ASL to Spoken English or as I like to call it “Spoken Hearing.”

Yay!

This is the first in what is meant to be a two-part course of study. The second being “Visual Linguistic Analysis.”

Now, I say meant to be because ideally you should take ASL to Spoken English (Hearing) first and then Visual Linguistic Analysis. But you can take either as a stand alone class because each focuses on different skill sets.

Many of my students will tell you if you take them both, in the expected order, you can learn to interpret from ASL to Spoken English and make it pretty and work with the confidence that the Deaf community should, but rarely does, expect!

Think about it. How many members of the Deaf community expect an interpreter with whom they have never worked to have the skills to understand ASL let alone interpret it into English at a level they can trust; I mean trust at a level where they just feel free to say what they want without constantly checking on the interpreter?

That is my goal for students who graduate from the program I oversee; to be known for their strong ASL analysis skills. If a Client knows their interpreter came from my program I want them to immediately feel free to express themselves in a way that is natural, not in a way they hope the interpreter understands.

But, as the title of my future memoir says, I digress.

If you want to learn to work from ASL to Spoken English your first hurdle is to be comfortable speaking in your own first language, getting used to the sound of your own voice.

My students will tell you I rarely use the term spoken English in class. I say “Spoken Hearing,” as in, “say that in hearing.” Because the only place “proper English” exists is in texts books about English.

Step one: get over the sound of your own voice, in hearing.

Stand up and say concepts, ideas, and words that are not your own, out loud, in front of other people.

Think of the movie “inception.” Your brain will rebel against saying words or concepts out loud that do not originate from within your brain. Specifically when phrased in first person. It will totally fight you!

So, we start with poetry. Long form poetry. Yes, I mean we read long form poetry out loud.

I know. You are out there saying, “POETRY? Not a fan!” And that, it turns out, is the reason it works so well as a teaching tool. Your brain must deal with familiar words in an unfamiliar format.

Moreover, I believe this world can be divided into people who love poetry and people who don’t know who Robert Service is.

Here. Enjoy this (I’m not kidding, I’ll wait…)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/46647/the-ballad-of-blasphemous-bill

Here is what I need you to do. Read it out loud and don’t be constrained by the rules you learned in school. Read it like you were telling a story. A story of someone who agreed to take on a job that they did not think through, and how they did the job… but not exactly in the way Bill hired them to do it.

Find the meaning. Find the story, not just the words that the story is built from. Most important? GET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.

Get it out of your mouth in front of another person. Get over the sound of your own voice!

Step Two: GET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH!

If you want to learn how to work from ASL to “Hearing” the step after poetry is to work with something dynamic. Something that vanishes (because the words on the page are always there any time you look). So we move on to cartoons.

Old ones.

Old black and white Betty Boop cartoons work fantastically well for this.

Have someone put their back to the screen, turn the sound off and, using full sentences, describe this:

Remember you cannot say things like “the dog walked over to the table…” because, which dog? What table?

If you give too little detail it makes no sense. Too much detail? You lose the thread of the story.

Say what you see. Even if what you see is impossible (how did you handle the fire truck going around a corner?).

Most important? GET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH.

Step Three: we move on to silent movies. Dealing with implied and sometimes stated dialogue. How do you handle conversations? How do you keep participants separate?

“WAIT! WAIT UNCLE DALE!” I hear you saying, “what about ASL? We are three assignments in to this semester and you have not even touched on ASL!”

Nope. You still have a couple more steps before we get there.

These are the skills you need to master before we clutter up your head with the process of interpreting from one language to another.

Think about it this way. If you can’t clearly and with full sentences describe what happens when Pudgy the Dog runs into the burning building how would you possibly do it if we laid the mental process of interpreting on top of it?

Build the foundational skills first, get over the sound of your voice, GET IT OUT OF YOUR MOUTH, in complete sentences, then move on.

Wax on/Wax off.

Paint the fence.

Sand the floor.

Uncle Dale’s “You Probably Should Know”: Borderline.

There was a question posed on social media today by a woman who is Deaf. The very short version of the story involved being stopped by Customs and Border Patrol as they returned from Canada. During the encounter they requested that the Agent communicate in writing.

The Agent refused to do so.

The Agent gave verbal commands to the Deaf couple that they did not understand and as the encounter progressed the Agent became more agitated and the Deaf couple more fearful. The power differential is obvious and the turmoil nationally gave them reason to be anxious.

When this woman who is Deaf posted her story she relied heavily on references to Title II of the ADA. I suggested she may wish to frame this under Section 504 as well.

She asked me to explain why I suggested Section 504, as she understood it to be an education law.

https://uncledalesrulesforinterpreters.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/rule-11/

I find that Rule 11 applies equally to the Deaf Community as well. This past week I presented a workshop at NAD/RID Region I that covers this very topic (just a side note. I gave an “hour and a half” version of a day long workshop where I physically walk attendees through federal laws like each is its own foreign country, with its own customs and language.

I will post a description of the workshop at the end.

I have submitted this workshop to several regional RID conferences but sadly no takers. NAD attendees and State Associations who have asked me to present it rave about it; its the clearest way to understand how the ADA, Section 504, IDEA and the ACA are similar and how each is markedly DIFFERENT. Anyway…)

I have been asked to post my answer to the question “why 504” on the Rules Blog so more people can see it.

Here is my answer:

“I can’t give you legal advice because I don’t have half enough facts. I am just giving a general idea of the differences and similarities between federal laws so you understand why you may want to look at Section 504 when framing the issue with these facts.

Customs/Border Patrol/ICE/Homeland Security are Federal Executive agencies which is one of the two entities 504 was designed to obligate (the other being any entity or business that accepts federal funds) so it seems 504 would be uniquely applicable.

I would still suggest including Title II in any discussion of a possible complaint you have with an attorney. Title II is good because it requires the agency to give “primary consideration” to the request made by the Deaf person (in this case writing). Understand that because Title II requires “primary consideration” when Section 504 overlaps with Title II, then Section 504 cannot be interpreted to provide less protection than Title II-so it would also require “Primary Consideration.”

However, Title II may have complications in enforcement. The more remote possible issue comes from a case called Tennessee v. Lane (and another case out of Georgia) that seem to indicate that there may be a requirement that you prove a Constitutional violation in order to enforce Title II. As this argument stems from an 11th Amendment conflict it may only be a problem if the State Police, not the Feds as it was according to the facts you laid out, were involved. But with the Federal Courts, including the Supreme Court, almost daily becoming more conservative and less responsive to the rights of individuals it is easy to imagine a Federal Agency making an argument for a more expansive application of the requirement or at least favoring the need for a Constitutional violation; from the brief description you gave I don’t see a Constitutional violation in your case.

Again, the courts have never said you MUST include a Constitutional violation, they have just said that they supported decisions in favor of the person with the disability “because” there was a Constitutional violation. One way or another it’s a possible extra fight you would not need.

The protections of Section 504 are equal in almost every respect to Title II in that Section 504 cannot be interpreted to provide less protection than Title II. In places where Section 504 is not equal to Title II there is an argument that it is better.

504 applies to all Executive Branch agencies and any entity accepting federal funds. As it must be interpreted in equity with (and sometimes better than) the ADA it covers the same ground as Title II but does not have the same possibility of needing to show a Constitutional violation (again the requirement for a Constitutional violation, if it exists at all, likely only applies to actions against States… but better safe than sorry as it were).

The second problem for a Title II action is one of wording and interpretation. Title II says that persons with disabilities are to be given equal access to the “programs, benefits and services” offered by government agencies.

Is the border patrol a benefit to you?

Is being searched a program?

Was searching you a service?

There is case law that goes both ways.

But 504 says:

(a) No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States, as defined in section 705(20), shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance or under any program or activity conducted by any Executive agency or by the United States Postal Service (emphasis added).

Applying the facts as you stated them you have a strong case that you were “subjected to discrimination” under the “activity” of Border Patrol conducting a search.

Again. This is not legal advice, just an observation. Talk to a lawyer in your area.

Hope that helps.

(My recent NAD workshop:

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 deaf people and interpreters to understand the differences and similarities between, and even within, these laws. It is also 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 through 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. It is equally fun and beneficial for the interpreter and community member. [0.125 PS])

Note from Uncle Dale: Meeting A Hero

You know when you hear the story of an event over and over, or tell the story of that event as an example or to support your point over and over, but you have never actually met any of the players involved.

And then you meet one of them.

Meeting the person you have talked about for what feels like your whole life, having that person is right there in front of you, it’s a weird feeling.

If the reason you tell the story is highly significant to your work or culture or personal interests, but not to people in general, it’s hard to explain to the “uninitiated” why you are so excited to meet a person they may never have heard of. They just don’t get it.

It’s like trying to explain a meme to your grandma.

So, this happened yesterday:

If you do not know who this is, you should. It was a moment where two of my great passions, Deafness and the Law, came together.

This is Amy June Rowley.

I have said her name and told her story easily a thousand times in classrooms and court rooms for the past 20 years.

Now, like I said, if you don’t recognize the name, as an interpreter or a member of the Deaf community, you should. Take a minute and read this.

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/458/176/

I’m an advocate. I was born that way. My mother encouraged my journey down that road. This case has always made my blood boil.

I disagree with the decision. I disagree with the reasoning for it.

But, I have always loved the idea of Amy Rowley. She has always occupied the same place in my mind as Linda Brown (who recently passed away).

https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/347/483/case.html

I can’t think of one without the other. Proud and strong little girls standing up before a system that is ultimately unfair to proud and strong little girls who stand up to the system.

When I thought of Amy Rowley I saw this iconic image in my head:

But now I will see this:

I will see a brilliant and strong woman who, unlike Linda Brown who was vindicated by nine white men, was disappointed by nine hearing justices but did not allow that moment to define who she is.

That is the most important thing I learned from meeting Amy Rowley, Board of Educ. v. Rowley, is part of her history but is not who she is.

That is when Amy Rowley changed in my mind from a character in a story to a real live hero.

Amy June Rowley is a hero not because she and her parents stood up against impossible odds and lost. Amy June Rowley is a hero because the best revenge is a good life and she has done just that!

She is a proud and strong mother who is Deaf of proud and strong children who are Deaf. She is a hero because “Dr. Amy June Rowley is the Coordinator of the American Sign Language Program in Modern Languages and Literatures department. She completed her dissertation in 2014 in Second Language Education in Urban Education from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee which focused on American SignLanguage Advanced Studies Programs: Implementation Procedures and Identifying Empowering Practices. She holds a professional level certification inAmerican Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA). Her research interests are systemic and hierarchal structure of American Sign Language programs in postsecondary institutions; and relationships between students/interpreters and the Deaf community. She has published articles related to Audism, oppression and special education experiences. Prior to coming to Cal State- East Bay, she was the coordinator of the American Sign Language Program at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee for nine years” (from her bio).

Just as the Supreme Court had the chance to clean up its own mess in Plessy v. Ferguson with its decision in Brown v. Board of Education it took a positive step in redeeming itself for Board of ed. v. Rowley with is recent decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County.

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/endrew-f-v-douglas-county-school-district/

It’s nowhere near enough, but it’s a start.

Anyway.

If you get a chance to attend a lecture or presentation by Dr. Rowley don’t miss it. Afterward please shake her hand and let her know she is the hero we all need. Not because she stood up to injustice and was knocked down, but because she got up and became the person she is without the permission of history.

That is what a hero does.

Rule 526

The definition of a successful workshop: everyone stayed awake while you taught something they didn’t know when they came in.

Everything else is a bonus.

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:

General

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!