Monday, March 30, 2015

Workshop Report

Last Saturday was my workshop. I had a great turnout with 19 people attending. My target audience was hearing people and eight of my attendees were friends and family members of people with hearing loss. Because CART captioning was provided their loved ones with  hearing loss could attend with them. Many were affiliated with ALDA Chicago.

I began by demonstrating what different types of hearing losses sound like through video and audio clips. In their training workbooks, I provided them with a chart that illustrated the four levels of hearing loss (mild, moderate, severe, and profound). One of the activities was for them to figure out what was being said by listening through "deaf ears". None were able to do it successfully. I think they were a little surprised to experience the listening challenges of hearing loss for themselves.

Then, I discussed three important proactive behaviors that speakers can do when a listener has hearing loss: to get the listener's attention before speaking, to face the listener the entire time, and to check for understanding. Short video clips that showed these experiences from a person with hearing loss' perspective were used to demonstrate the importance of these speaker behaviors. Then we did a simultaneous small group role play activity to reinforce this learning.

Next, we talked about the bane of background noise. To figure out solutions, we played a game of "Family Feud". The answers were based on the survey responses I had received during my front end analysis before designing the workshop's content. I had created a game board using poster board with Velcro strips so I could attach the answers as they were given. Just as in the TV game show, the answers weren't necessarily "right" but rather the ones provided through the survey. This gave the workshop participants an opportunity to think of their own answers too which I wrote down.

Finally we talked about what to do if a misunderstanding occurs. There is so much more that could be covered on the topic of hearing loss and communication, but I was limited to a one hour time frame so I stuck to the basics. I really appreciated the questions and comments I received from my target audience which gave me better insight into their communication concerns.

In this photo, you can see the CART captioner's laptop, the CART projection screen, and an open captioned video playing. Hooray for communication access through captions! When one of the attendees mentioned the background HVAC noise present, I replied that we had compensated for it by providing CART captioning for the session.

I received positive feedback from the attendees. Many of them have been watching me grow and learn over my years of involvement with ALDA Chicago. I was really honored that they chose to support me in this endeavor. My next assignment is to create a video describing my training project from start to finish.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Workshop Development Continues

Since my last blog post, I have moved forward on creating my workshop. My mom and my aunt Louise gave me some great advice about dealing with my disappointment. My sister believed in me and gave me a confidence boost when I most needed it. I also received some wonderfully supportive comments on my last post and on Facebook and that helped tremendously.

I decided to forge ahead and get on with the next assignment: putting together the workshop's structured lessons. Two days later I met with my teacher. I showed her what I had put together thus far and found out I had gotten it wrong - again! She went over what she was looking for and then I felt like I understood where I had gone off track and what I needed to do instead. I was also very surprised to learn that my grade had been one of the four top ones in our class and that no one had received an A. That made me feel a lot better. Because spring break was coming and we would not meet again until the assignment was due, the teacher said to email her with any follow up questions.

The next day I met with my academic adviser to discuss registering for the next semester's class. I happened to mention what had occurred with my last assignment and my adviser told me to drop the class right away. She said it was not worth it for me to put so much time and energy into my work and not see it reflected in my grade. To her surprise, I told her I was going to stick it out. I felt hopeful again that I could see this through and maybe even get a good grade in the end.

That night I sent my teacher a third revision of the wording of my workshop objectives because she had not been satisfied with them when we met. Naturally, I did not say anything about what my adviser had said. Imagine my surprise and satisfaction when I received the following reply: Now we're talking. Yes, excellent. Those objectives are right on the money. You are so good, I wish you were in [a different program that she runs]. Frankly, I was shocked. I had certainly not thought she felt that way about me after the last two grades I received.

The next good thing that happened to me was I contacted Karen Putz and Gael Hannan for permission to quote from their writing in my workshop and they both said yes. I still have more writing to do on my lessons, but I feel like this workshop is coming together and will be complete in time for my class deadline. Then, I will be presenting it live three days later.

Thank you to everyone who has been supportive of me on this project.

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?