By Carly Waters: Technical Officer at ECL Sensory Service
A Day in the Life of an ECL Technical Officer for Deaf and Deafblind People
I have been profoundly deaf since birth and wear one hearing aid in my right ear. I have been involved with the Sensory Team for nearly 21 years and have been a qualified Technical Officer for nearly 10 years.
Before COVID 19 – my typical working day starts with an important walk with my hearing dog for deaf people Sherlock before I go to the office. When I arrive at the office I check emails, check the customer’s referral details from the system, sort out the paperwork including photocopies of the equipment guide sheets, agreement forms and registration forms and prepare paperwork for the customer’s visit. Then I have a discussion with work colleagues before I make my journey to the customers house.
When I arrive, I put the working coat and lead on Sherlock – he looks really smart in his uniform! We go to their door; I introduce myself and show my ID badge before they accept me into their home. I discuss their communication needs before I start the assessment. This enables me to establish where is the best place to sit, the majority of customers preferring to sit closeby and face to face. I make sure I am able to communicate with them effectively and adapt to ensure this in various ways: –
BSL (British Sign Language),
SSE (Sign Support English),
Lip-reading or Verbal
If the customer has an accent or family are involved in the assessment
I book an interpreter to support me with communication. Sherlock then lays beside me before I start. I ask questions to enable me to obtain their information related to their hearing loss, sight loss, housing, mobility etc. After I have completed the sensory assessment, I demonstrate the various equipment: –
Bellman 868 pager system
Bellman 868 Flash receiver
Bellman 868 portable receiver
Bellman 868 wrist receiver system
I then explain how they work – for example – if the customer states he is struggling to hear the doorbell, telephone ringing and smoke alarm during the day and night and he/she lives in a two storey house with a garden, I suggest the Bellman 868 pager system to alert them of the above three sounds by relying on vibration from the pager and to check that the LED lights up to enable them to identify which logo/LED lights. During the night they rely on a vibrating pad under the pillow to alert them of the above three sounds. I provide the guide sheet of the Bellman 868 pager system for their information and include our contact details if there are any problems with the equipment. There is other equipment available such as TV & personal listeners, room loops, amplified phones etc we can demonstrate some of them and provide information to enable them to purchase them if required…
In some cases I do assist customers with sight difficulties such as prepare hot/cold drinks, using the microwave or/and oven, can’t see the time or/and date etc.
I signpost the customers to other organisations such as Hearing Help Essex or Essex Fire Service etc. too. Sometimes I give them some useful advice and information, such as Video Relay Directory via SignVideo app, other non-standard equipment, Relay UK app etc. Also discussed with the customers is how they feel, are they isolated, do they have support etc and refer or signpost onto national and local charities’ and voluntary groups.
I ask customers if they would like to be registered as hard of hearing or deaf, I complete the registration form on their behalf and usually post the registration card to them when this has been processed.
I need to obtain their permission before I can share their details with ECL Equipment Service, Essex Fire Service, Hearing Help Essex, family/friends etc, they usually sign their name on the form to enable me to refer to the above organisations.
Before I return to office or home I take Sherlock for another important walk. I then order the equipment online and request the technician to visit the customer to install the Bellman pager system and advise them of the method of contact such as text message or e-mail etc – this is done to ensure that they are able to access the telecommunication with the customers.
The sensory assessment is then typed, and I update the details on the system.
We do receive phone calls, e-mail or text messages from the customers or their family/friends re: equipment not working, we place order to request to ECL Equipment Service to visit the customer to repair or replace.
Sometimes I do joint visits with other services and attend various meetings. I’m also involved in a BSL lunch club with work colleagues to enable them to learn basic BSL language or improve their BSL skills. I support my work colleagues with any equipment and sensory advices.
During COVID, I have managed to complete the sensory assessments with customers via video calls (FaceTime or Zoom), e-mail, phone calls via Relay UK Text Service and text messages. I also signposted them and referred them to other services/organisations.
If you have sight loss, hearing loss or combined sight and hearing loss (Deafblind), a visit from th ECL Sensory Team can help you to maintain your independence and dignity in every aspect of daily life. Please contact ECL Sensory Service – phone: 03330133262, SMS: 07921397547 or email: SensoryServices@essexcares.org