Every day—multiple times a day—we receive information. Whether it’s through conversations, alerts, technology, or entertainment, information is everywhere we look. And, information shapes our experiences and our experiences shape us.
“People may not realize it, but eye contact, body language, and other environmental cues all contain information,” explains Christine Croyle, Program Director for the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness. “When a person’s vision or hearing is affected, part of the information is missing.”
Guided by the belief that increasing access to information promotes independence, the Outreach Center for Deafness and Blindness has created a new video training module, Promoting Access for People Who are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind, or Visually Impaired. Developed in collaboration with school districts and agencies across the state, this free, self-paced training module offers a collection of evidence-based strategies and scenarios at home, school, and in the community. The introductory information is designed to build confidence and comfort for anyone communicating or connecting with people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired.
Because the number of people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired is a small percentage of society, a person’s only experience may be through what they’ve seen on TV, in the movies, or on social media—showing one person, in one place, at one time, which limits perspective. The reality is that being deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired can look different in many ways.
Featuring practical, real-world examples in a variety of settings was an important goal for the development of this module.
“After many months of traveling the state, we captured authentic stories from people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired, their families, community members, co-workers, educators, and others,” shares Heather Herbster, Outreach Specialist. “In the module, you will hear people share insights into the factors that impact how a person receives information using sight, sound, and touch.”
The development on this module was a collaborative effort between many organizations and individuals and was funded by the Ohio Department of Education, in partnership with the Office for Exceptional Children.
“Life is about connection and we do not want anyone to miss the opportunity to connect,” shares Shawn Henry, OCALI’s Executive Director. “This module is designed to help people gain confidence when connecting with people who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind, or visually impaired anytime and anywhere.”
This video module can be used for individual or group-based professional learning. If you’re in a school, community organization, business, or just interested in learning more on your own, this module is flexible and includes reflective questions to spark your thinking or to share ideas. Users can also earn a certificate of completion for 2.5 hours that can go toward professional development.
“Improving a person’s access to a better quality of life can be done by anyone,” explains Croyle. “Regardless of your role—whether you’re a family member, neighbor, coworker, teacher, or bus driver—we can all do a few simple things to make life better for someone.”
The module contains an introduction and three chapters:
Introduction: Gain insight into factors that can impact how a person receives information using sight, sound, and touch. Discover simple and effective strategies to get you started with basic supports.
Chapter 1: Establishing Relationships: The relationships we form with one another are an important part of our social and emotional well-being. Understanding how we are similar and how we are different enriches our interactions and strengthens our bonds.
Chapter 2: Understanding Supports: Supports can come in many forms. Supports might be people, they might be ways our environment is structured, or they might be tools that are used for access.
Chapter 3: Access in Action: Observe these new strategies in real life scenarios at home, school, and in the community.