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Sharing knowledge and skills

At the 9th National Deafblind Conference in Sydney, which was held in June this year, Matthew Wittorff, Senses Australia’s Manager Deafblind Services, presented the outcomes of the research he conducted for his Masters Degree.  His research, titled ‘The Impact of Communication Guide Support for Individuals with Deafblindness’, looked at the impact of the provision Communication Guides had on the health and wellbeing of adults who are deafblind.

The study, which took place in 2011, involved 10 participants who had deafblindness and received specialised support from a Communication Guide, a support worker with specialist training and skills, for a period of six months.

The results were overwhelmingly positive!  Matthew received a wonderful response from the conference delegates who were from Australia and New Zealand.  Merv Cox, President of Deafblind New Zealand approached Matthew and began discussing the possibility of delivering the Communication Guide training package in New Zealand.

Two of our Deafblind Consultants, Karen Wickham and Angela Wills, travelled to Wellington, New Zealand and delivered four days of training in August 2014 to a group of support workers, so they too can provide this service to adults who are deafblind.

The four day training program included a number of modules:

  • Introduction to Deafblindness.
  • Role of the Communication Guide.
  • Person-Centred Planning.
  • Orientation and Mobility – Theory.
  • Orientation and Mobility – Practical (indoor and outdoor).
  • Task Analysis.
  • Communication.
  • Psychosocial impact of Deafblindness.
  • Adaptations and Equipment.
  • Ethics and Boundaries.
  • Assessments – Written and Practical Sighted Guide.

Participants had to achieve 60% on the written exam and pass a practical sighted guide exercise to be awarded the status of Communication Guide.  This competency based training ensure standards are of a high quality.

Karen, Angela and our Deafblind Services team received some wonderful feedback from the participants including:

“Wonderful presenters, everyone interacting together.  Approachable and understanding to everyone’s different learning levels.”

“This training must be made available to all support people involved with deafblind people from partners and families to friends and other support people.”

“To have professionals talking about Behaviour, Communication Methods, Psychosocial impacts of deafblindness has been invaluable also.”

Congratulations to Matthew and our Deafblind Services team!