By Ashleigh Harris, JCI Southampton Training Director
On Thursday 24 May we met Kim, Mark and his Hearing Dog, Erin. They were speaking to JCI Southampton members about Deaf awareness. The training was themed to fall inline with the national event within JCI UK about deaf awareness.
Kim and Mark both work with Hearing dogs for Deaf People in different volunteering capacities. Mark was there is demonstrate and discuss the practicalities of how having a Hearing Dog changed his life for the better. Kim came in her occupational capacity as a Specialist Employment Advisor with the organisation Actions On Hearing Loss.
She explained that 40 years ago when she left the support of her family and the education system she realised there was a gap in support as being deaf was a barrier to getting employed to the job roles she wanted. After 15 years working in the city council, Kim described her unique role to us and those who can access her services through the Access to Work incentive.
Kim helps clients aged 18 plus with any hearing loss in getting ready to enter to the workforce through to offering training employer’s on how they can support an employee. Both client and employees are educated about how to access funding from the scheme. She also networks with different organisations and employees on offering training about the lack of deaf awareness and how perceptions that they can’t afford to support a employee with additional HR needs are not true.
She covers a mixture of needs from wellbeing, financial awareness, literal translation, to training for get ready for employment to being placed in a job. She helps her clients through interpretive needs, training, meetings and equipment. She gets to know her clients individually and often helps them with their reading and writing capabilities as they maybe low due to lack of formal support in their education and no services offered as an adult.
Mark was raised as a hearing environment and was schooled in main stream schools with Hearing impairment unit. He had not received any training or specialist services growing up as his family did not identify him as deaf. Mark described working within roles identifying as a hearing employee and only later in his life started to identify as being on the deafness spectrum.
Mark described his journey in finding his local deaf community and how Kim guided him through the everyday events of working within employment and learning to cope with everyday scenarios from a support role. Mark took on a placement with the Hampshire Constabulary with the help of Kim who offered advocacy support through the city council at the time.
He explained that his role developed with them as he was able to display quick and adaptive approach to the tasks given to him. He expanded in to more competencies over a year’s period whilst his confidence with administrative skills such as reading and writing grew. Mark talked about his time as working within a managerial roles within Asda’s bakery and beginning to realise he identified as being deaf as time went on.
Mark introduced his 8 year old, black female cockapoo Erin. He explained how he applied and then waited 3 years for his puppy to be placed with him. Each puppy currently costs 40k to train and are trained over an 16-20 month period. Erin is 1 of 4 specially trained dogs who go out and can demonstrate their abilities. He applied for a small dog due to currently working in an open plan office.
Erin supports Mark in opening up his socialising by being alert to others seeking his attention, being aware to his environment both at home and at work. For example getting up for alarms, to being aware of fire drills. A demonstration was given of these two aspects. This are many of her roles she is trained to support Mark in.
The headquarters for the Hearing Dogs in the Buckinghamshire, ‘The Grange’ has a new visitor centre that people can now visit to understand the charity more fully. The session was engaging and we learnt a lot about the awareness of the service’s and advocacy availability for the deaf in the community. The session was fun and interactive with Erin’s involvement.
Categorised in: Training
This post was written by makedo