Everyday’s a school day for our Workable (NI) Programme team here at Action on Hearing Loss, as they support three teachers with hearing loss through the programme.
The programme supports people who are Deaf, have hearing loss or tinnitus as well as their employer. The team support individuals through one to one sessions, peer support and training sessions delivered to colleagues focusing on improving communication.
The team have recently been extending their support to the classroom, delivering Deaf Awareness for Young people (DAY) sessions to pupils at the three schools where the teachers work.
The sessions, tailored to the pupils’ age groups, focused on gaining a better understanding of hearing loss as well as how best to communicate with anyone who is deaf or has hearing loss. Through delivering a number of these sessions, the team reached out to almost 400 schoolchildren from ages 5 to 12 across Northern Ireland, from Portadown to Randalstown.
Teacher Mark from Clounagh Junior High School, Portadown, who is a participant on the Workable (NI) Programme noted, “These sessions went well and were very interactive, pupils were fully engaged and enjoyed practicing fingerspelling their names.”
Speaking about his experience as a technology teacher, Mark said: “Teaching a practical subject whilst having hearing loss and tinnitus is challenging, particularly with a noisy environment. I was apprehensive about mentioning my hearing loss to pupils but their reaction has been positive and they have been understanding, as have colleagues.”
Mark also noted that he has found the support available through the Workable (NI) Programme to be very beneficial: “I would thoroughly recommend the programme. My Employment Support Officer comes from a place of knowledge, understanding and empathy, it’s great to have someone like that to talk to.”
50 miles up the motorway, in Maine Integrated Primary School in Randalstown, another session was delivered to a full assembly hall of almost 140 children, covering basic hearing health information, communication tips and sign language, the audience varied from ages 4-11 but their attention remained throughout. Primary One teacher, Mrs Mc Bride has worked in Maine IPS for the past 12 years and has been a participant on the Workable (NI) Programme since last year. Speaking about Workable, she said “I didn’t know there were others experiencing the same challenges as me. The support from my Employment Support Officer has been life changing.”
Mrs McBride has started her British Sign Language Level 1 and also an after-schools basic sign language club. 12 children are staying behind each week to learn a new language and communication tips.
Communication Tactics Training was also delivered to staff at the school, specifically designed around Mrs McBride’s hearing loss and the barriers she faces on a daily basis and the small changes, which when adapted, can be a game changer for the staff member with hearing loss.
Following the training, Mrs McBride shared her hearing loss with families in the school community. Since, a number of people have made direct contact to acknowledge the sharing of information and to stand alongside her in support.
If you or anyone you know would benefit from support in the
workplace, get in touch with the team for further information.