I think my most rewarding experience in the Boiler House would be working with a group of teens involved in the Deaf Project. All of them had problems with their speaking and hearing. Some of them could barely speak, so I had to use the very little knowledge of sign language I have and a lot of hand gestures just so I could coach them properly.
The only experience I’d had with deaf previous to that was the sign language experts on TV, so it’s safe to say that I was beginner at best. Although the session was roughly only around an hour long, I developed as a person and a coach really quickly. I gained an incredible amount of knowledge about their disability and how to work with it to provide an enjoyable and rewarding session.
When I first began instructing I found that it was very different from anything I done before, although it presented small challenges I worked hard with the hearing impaired assistant so I could adapt quickly to give the participants the best of my abilities. It didn’t take long until I found a teaching style that seemed to work and I felt more comfortable and confident. Because I was doing a lot of gestures myself I noticed the assistant was almost passing her role on to me.
Things I normally take for granted when teaching I had to re-think because normally I can just say what they should and shouldn’t do but for this session I had to talk to the assistant to come up signs I could do so the participants would understand. After we had crossed this barrier I could finally teach in a way that was enjoyable, all without having to talk. They had great fun throughout the session playing archery games and challenges.
At the start of the session they were hitting blues and blacks on the target but by the end all of them were hitting the minimum of a red. It was amazing to see how many participants had achieved gold by the end. I received plenty of praise after the session and they even taught me some sign language so if I ever work with hearing impaired again I could at the very least greet them with hello.