Gillian works as a cleaning operative in a health and social care setting and had never managed to achieve a qualification, she was born deaf and uses BSL, lip reading and writing notes to communicate. She had seen that I was working with support workers in the nursing home for them to complete a qualification and during her supervision told her manager she wanted the opportunity to study too.
I met with Gillian and her manager, but neither the manager nor I knew how to use BSL so the meeting was difficult with notes passing back and forth. I suggested to Gillian that I could source an organisation that had BSL practitioners on their assessment team, but Gillian, indicated that she wanted to work with me, she didn’t want to be different from her colleagues.
We agreed we needed to get a BSL translator to help us to communicate. Gillian, her employer and I carried out research and managed to access funding through access to work to fund a translator to come to each of our meetings. We then found a translator that was similar in age to Gillian and who worked on a adhoc basis with a university to support deaf students.
The translator worked with myself and Gillian to assess her learning needs, Gillian had very limited vocabulary and used some different signs to the translator so they worked together to agree signs for key words, Gillian found linear questions difficult so scenarios had to be developed for all questions to enable Gillian to understand what was being asked of her.
We also discovered that concepts such as safeguarding, County Councils, abuse, duty of care were totally foreign to her so for training purposes the three of us developed a routine where I taught the translator first so she understood the subjects in context and we then worked together to build scenarios that Gillian would understand, then at the end of the sessions understanding would be checked through discussion between the three of us, with me taking notes of Gillian’s answers.
All this took time so the company worked in partnership with New College Durham to negotiate an extension of the learning programme to meet Gillian’s needs.
Gillian passed her course and tells me her certificates are proudly displayed on the wall in her home.