Today’s Secret Deafie writes about a work placement that didn’t work out as planned. Send us your Secret Deafie blog by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Details about the centre promised a “specialised environment”, a “person-centred approach” and the chance for deaf and deafblind people to do “specific developmental activities”. It sounds great, doesn’t it?
Sadly, as I discovered on a work placement, the reality is very different.
Let’s take Jenny as an example. Jenny is 32 and deafblind. Her family looked for an opportunity to reduce Jenny’s isolation and get her involved in some activities she enjoys.
Her relatives felt confident that Jenny would have full communication with staff and develop her independence from her weekly attendance at the local centre.
The reality is very different but Jenny does not have the opportunity to complain.
On an average day, there are about 13 service users in one group attending the centre and approximately 9 staff.
The service users mainly communicate using BSL or hands-on signing. However, the majority of staff do not have sufficient skills to communicate beyond basic greetings.
A lack of communication is not the only issue. The attitude and behaviour of staff is not appropriate or respectful.
They are more interested in gossiping than ensuring the service users have a worthwhile experience. I attempt to communicate with all service users in the group.
What happens when I am not there? This is social isolation. The people are alone despite being surrounded by people.
A quick search on the NRCPD website came up with four interpreters for deafblind people, so this is clearly a shortage area.
However, that is not an excuse. An employer should have a responsibility to train staff to the appropriate level.
The majority of staff in the centre where I have been working do not even have Level 2 BSL.
Some staff are trying to improve their skills independently but why are deaf and deafblind service users guinea-pigs when the centre gets funding for the “specialist” service it allegedly offers?
The Limping Chicken is the UK’s deaf blogs and news website, and is the world’s most popular deaf blog. It is edited by Deaf journalist and filmmaker Charlie Swinbourne.
Please note that the views of the writers are their own, and not necessarily the views of the Editor or site as a whole. Read our disclaimer here.
- Phonak: innovative technology and products in hearing acoustics
- Ai-Media: Remote captioning. Check out these captioning fails!
- Bellman & Symfon: home alerting solutions
- Deaf Umbrella: sign language interpreting and communications support
- Clarion: BSL/English interpreting and employment services
- Appa: Communication services for Deaf, Deafblind and hard of hearing people
- Signature: Find out about the Signature conference here.
- SignVideo: Instant BSL video interpreting online
- 121 Captions: captioning and speech-to-text services
- Hearing Direct: Online hearing aids
- The National Theatre: Captioned and BSL accessible theatre in London
- Doncaster School for the Deaf: education for Deaf children
- SignLive: Online video interpreting for Deaf people
- RAD Tax Advice: Tax and Tax Credit info for Deaf people
- Deaf Independent: Deaf care and support services
- Signworld: online BSL learning and teaching materials
- National Deaf Children's Society: The leading charity for deaf children
- DCAL: Find out how to study at the Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre, London
- cSeeker: Deaf-led educational communication support service
- Signed Culture: Advocating for BSL access to arts and culture
- Sarah Gatford: BSL interpreting, training and consultancy
- SignHealth: healthcare charity for Deaf people
- CJ Interpreting: communication support in BSL
- Sign Solutions:, language and learning
- Action Deafness Communications: sign language and Red Dot online video interpreting
- BSLcourses.co.uk: Provider of online BSL courses
- British Society for Mental Health and Deafness: Promoting positive mental health for deaf people
- deafPLUS: Money advice line in BSL
- Happy: Microsoft Office courses taught in BSL and SSE by a Deaf trainer – all abilities catered for
- Hamilton Lodge School in Brighton: education for Deaf children
- Lipspeaker UK: specialist lipspeaking support
- Ozen: Australian hearing aid specialists
- Elmfield School, Bristol: Inclusive education for Deaf pupils
- Exeter Deaf Academy: education for Deaf children