Most of you will by now already know that I am one of the trainers for Enhance the UK and travel around the country delivering Disability awareness training and also Deaf awareness training. I am lucky enough to love my job as no two days are the same and this keeps me constantly on my toes. I am also constantly improving my skills and knowledge so thought I would share some of my pearls of wisdom which not only relate to training but to life in general
- Environment is key – I don’t think it was until I started training that I fully understood the impact that the physical environment can have on people. We often train in corporate environments and formal room layouts are not conducive to getting people to open up and discuss things in honest and frank ways. The first thing I do when entering a training room is to rejig the furniture. It’s also essential that everyone is sat where I can clearly see all of their lips as this is important for me to be able to lipread.
- Energy and enthusiasm goes a long way – often people come into training with a preconceived notion that they day is going to be long and dry. The energy in the room tends to be really low and this has a huge effect. The quicker you can raise the energy in the room by being bubbly yourself, getting people interacting and ‘doing’ and maybe most importantly laughing the better. You can literally feel people’s spirits raising and the energy sours.
- It’s okay to set out ground rules – this can be tricky and often we don’t like doing this, but actually we live our lives abiding by rules and that’s okay. Setting ground rules doesn’t have to be a big thing but often it does need to be done. The main rule that I have in my training session is that people put their hands up before speaking. I don’t mean to make people feel like school kids, it’s just that I can’t locate sound and I need to know who is speaking so I can lip read them. People are usually fine about that.
- Comfort is grossly underrated – When I initially started training, I dressed to look good and for me this meant wearing heels. I soon learnt the error of my ways! I walk around a lot more than my hearing colleagues, simply because I need to be in close proximity to who’s talking so am constantly on the move. Nowadays it’s all about comfort and for me flats are a must.
- It’s great to break stereotypes – The shock on people’s faces when I tell them I am profoundly deaf never gets old. People think that because I can speak clearly then I can’t be deaf. As my dad always used to say there’s an ‘ass in assume’ They respond with the same look when I tell them I love dancing and music.
- Why oh Why – If you have children you will remember that horrible phrase they go through when they constantly ask why, you answer them and they still ask why. As a parent it was a frustrating stage and one I couldn’t wait for my son to grow out of BUT I try and remember to bring this phase into my training. People need to understand the ‘why’ for knowledge to be impactful and for them to remember. For example why you shouldn’t shout at a deaf person, why hearing aids do not restore normal hearing etc.
- No questions are stupid – I always encourage people within sessions to ask me questions. It is very rare that it’s appropriate for people to ask questions about deafness and disability and therefore I encourage them to make the most of the opportunity. I always say that no questions are stupid, and normally they aren’t; unless you ask me what deaf people eat! I kid you not this has been asked ….