Our Aspire to Be service offers employability support for adults with additional communication needs but in particular those who are deaf or hard of hearing. As such, the team are all BSL users and here in our latest blog, work coach Simon Tacey tells us about his experience as a profoundly deaf person in his Aspire to Be role.

I have worked as a Work Coach for Aspire to Be for the past three years and, as a profoundly deaf person myself, I am really keen to tell my story about how I got to where I am now.

I was both a pupil and college student here at Doncaster Deaf Trust achieving qualifications in administration. I was then given the chance to work with the Trust’s employability service on a voluntary basis which then led to six months paid employment thanks to the wage subsidy grants which was available at that time and this is where my work journey started.

I was able to support the team with admin and type up reviews, help with monthly audits, create graphs for feedback results and assist with staff travel as I'm a train enthusiast and have a vast knowledge of timetables and stations nationally which was helpful to the team and our clients.

When imputing client reviews on our internal systems, I got to learn a lot about the support given to clients and I started to ask questions in team meetings. I found I was able to provide good ideas on how to encourage our cohort group as I am also deaf so knew what worked and what challenges a deaf person faced on a daily basis. For example, I suggested that in meetings or when a hearing person is not deaf aware and you need to ask a question or have a query it was a good idea to use live translate app on phone as it was a good tool for communication.

When the funding for my role was coming to an end, it was a great surprise that my manager asked how I would feel about becoming a work coach full time I obviously said yes, and the rest is history!

The journey for me has been a learning curve and being encouraged to use different communication methods built up my confidence. I had to improve my communication skills to help me communicate with hearing people as my job needed me to travel and meet clients in job centers and just using BSL was not viable as a lot of hearing people do not know BSL and causes a lot of confusion and frustration for both parties. I made myself an introduction card with my details and who I was there to meet which made things a lot easier and I also carried a notepad and pen to relay any information. This helped me form working relationships with a lot of hearing people and gave me so much more confidence.

I often use my own success as an example to show that we can overcome most barriers.