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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Creating a Communication Training Workshop

This semester I am taking a class called Communication Training. As part of the class, we are required to do some actual training. I thought I would share with you what I plan to do and how the plans for my communication workshop have been coming along.

The topic I selected was "How to Communicate Effectively with Adults Who Have Hearing Loss". I've attended various hearing loss related workshops and this training opportunity seemed like a good way for me to pull together information from some of the resources I have found through writing this blog. My target audience is people who do NOT have a hearing loss themselves which makes it different from any workshop I have attended. In addition, one of my primary goals is for the participants to experience what hearing loss is like to increase their understanding of the listening challenges involved.

I have been blessed to have some support for my workshop planning. My church, Amazing Love of Frankfort, Illinois will allow me to use their facility for the workshop at no charge. My local hearing loss support group, ALDA Chicago, sponsored my workshop as one of their events once I agreed to make it equally accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing. That was an aha moment for me when I realized that in my focus on my target audience, I had overlooked the importance of accessibility. You see I still have much to learn. Fortunately, a captioner has agreed to donate her services to make CART captioning available for my event. In addition, a group member is driving more than an hour to attend with two guests and she has offered to bring homemade cookies as well. When I read her email, I wanted to cry. It really touched my heart to have that gesture of support.

Following the curriculum for my course, I was required to conduct a needs assessment to determine the content of my workshop. This was a new experience for me. I conducted a survey of people with hearing loss, two surveys of people without hearing loss (one for those who had a close connection with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing and the other for those without that association), and two interviews with audiologists.

My key findings were that hearing people are unaware of

  • the importance of getting a person with hearing loss' attention before speaking, facing him/her the whole time while speaking, and checking for understanding.
  • how typical speech can be altered into Clear Speech (capitalization mine) which is more readily understood by people who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  • simple ways to adjust background noise or compensate for its presence to make an environment more conducive to comprehension for someone with a hearing loss.
I put all of my data into a lengthy, detailed report for my instructor. There were no less than 13 appendices to the report! Unfortunately, this week when she returned my assignment, I did not receive the grade (and praise) I had been expecting. My report came back to me with her writing in green ink throughout and comments like my findings (see above) were "vague" and that I had "danced around the problem" of hearing loss rather than defining it. Ouch! It seemed to me that she did not appreciate the large amount of time I had devoted to the assignment and arranging the workshop details nor the time I spent thinking through a complex subject and boiling it down to basic strategies that could be taught within a workshop. I took this let-down very hard and it's been tough for me to move ahead with the next assignment which is creating a structured lesson.

My mother and sister have suggested to me that I stop focusing on the teacher's reaction and wait to receive feedback from the actual participants of my workshop and see if they find the information helpful to them. What do you think? 


erin e. said...

Green ink, green schmink. Your dedication to improving communication is more invaluable than you can imagine. I have first hand experience with how much attention you pay to detail that I can't wait to attend this very informative training.

Love, your hearing office-mate,

Shari Eberts said...

I think the idea of the workshop is critical - many people do not understand how they can help in improving communications with those that do not hear well. I recently wrote a blog post on this topic which you might find interesting. Let me know if you think it might be useful to share any of it in your workshop and we can discuss how that might work.

Anonymous said...

I agree with your family. Focus on the participants in the workshop. Your key findings may seem "simple" or "vague" but they are absolutely the awareness that lacking in people with normal hearing.

Full disclosure -- I'm an audiologist. I also have several friends with hearing loss. I have seen communication breakdowns remedied by Clear Speech, an awareness of the effects of background noise and a better understanding of how to communicate with other humans.

Whether hearing or hearing impaired, we could all improve our skills to avoid misunderstanding and confusion!

Anonymous said...

I agree with your Mum and sister. See what the participants of your workshop and see how they found it.

Best wishes. x

Anonymous said...

This is a big issue with me. I have tried to explain my needs to others and I find that once people get to know me, I don't have much of a problem. However, as a librarian, I deal with the public and it is extremely difficult. Have you read El Deafo by CeCe Bell? It is a biography in graphic novel form that describes perfectly what we go through. You can use that as specific examples for your project.