It was a chance to put aside theory and receive firsthand advice, including do’s and don’ts, from people who are deafblind.
Chantelle and John Jr. were among four consumers to share information with first-year students in the Intervenor for Deafblind Persons program at George Brown College in Toronto.
“Be very careful when you’re using your phone,” Chantelle said. “I don’t mind when it’s for researching something, but if we’re doing an activity and every time I look over you’re texting … I kind of find that a bit disrespectful.”
“Please be respectful of my intervention time,” she added.
Chantelle was responding to a question about what traits and characteristics she doesn’t like in intervenors. Each of the panelists received the same questions in advance to help them prepare.
“I don’t like fast talkers, fast signing, when it’s very loud and when there is too many people,” John Jr. said in response to the same question.
Joining Chantelle and John Jr. on the panel were Barb, who receives Intervenor Services through CNIB, and Tina, who receives Intervenor Services though Canadian Helen Keller Centre.
Tina emphasized the students must have respect for the confidentiality of the people with whom they’re working.
Barb said she would like young intervenors to have stronger ASL skills and greater involvement in deaf community and culture.
The panelists were also asked about qualities and characteristics in a good intervenor.
“I like somebody who is very good at adapting to different situations and being good at suggesting activities. I have a very bad habit of getting too comfortable in my own home where I’ll become a recluse and won’t go out and do things, so somebody who is good at suggesting ideas and dragging me out of my comfort zone,” Chantelle said.
“I love to learn so telling me about things that are around that I might not have known about is a really good thing,” she added.
John Jr. said he likes intervenors to be able to joke around and also to be patient, flexible and good signers.
Tina said intervenors should have good “people skills” and be punctual.
Barb said she wants intervenors to have a good attitude, be respectful, have good social skills and be interesting to be around.
The discussion included time for students to ask questions.
“I think a lot of us are nervous to start intervening, and I know our placements will help us, but do you prefer to just interact with seasoned intervenors or do you enjoy to share your communication form with that person and learn together how best to communicate,” student Sarah asked.
“Your nervousness won’t go away if you don’t face it. So really try, really try to sign. You will improve, you will get faster,” Barb said.
“It’s kind of nice to learn with the new intervenors who are learning as well. It’s enjoyable,” Chantelle said.
GBC professor Cheryl Ramey said feedback from graduates of the Intervenor for Deafblind Persons program indicates the consumer panel is one of the two most valuable and useful panels for students during the two-year program.
Both Chantelle and John Jr. said they enjoyed the experience and would be willing to speak to students again next year. They travelled to Toronto together on the GO Train with intervenor Heather.