Therapro hosted its very first international speaker for the Saturday Seminar Series on February 15. A post professional master’s student at Tufts, occupational therapist Jill Massey, from the United Kingdom, presented her talk entitled: A Life Skills Program for Students, 10-19 years of Age, Who Are Deaf and Low Functioning. On a day that threatened a snowstorm, a brave and focused group of attendees learned how this therapist went about developing a program in a facility that had never had an occupational therapist on its staff and learned of her vision for a life skills approach to the Deaf, low functioning students at her school.
Jill’s seminar provided a brief overview of OT practice in the UK within community based pediatrics. She also discussed understanding and awareness of issues for children/young adults who are Deaf and introduced a Life Skills Program for this population. Jill clarified the difference in the use of the two terms “deaf” and “Deaf” when discussing Deaf culture. The quote she documented from the UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities says: “Persons with disabilities shall be entitled, on an equal basis with others, to recognition and support of their specific and linguistic identity, including sign language and Deaf culture.”
Jill’s position at Oak Lodge School was a brand new service to the students, with no budget. She had her work cut out for her and has worked tirelessly in conjunction with the school speech and language therapist to educate staff as well as provide evaluation and class-based intervention for the students Her work became focused on real world integration of the students and empowering parents to work with their children to promote independence. Evidenced based studies were shared that indicate that context-based exposure in building life skills is key to success. Her goal is to do international research in this area of practice to demonstrate the efficacy of a program that is directed to student independence in life skills at home and in the community.
Jill taught us Deaf etiquette through a true-false quiz, gave us tips for providing optimal environmental adaptations with Deaf students, and offered practical suggestions on how to communicate effectively with a Deaf person. It was quite an interesting seminar!
Here are a few of the comments received from attendees:
“Presenter is an advocate, trailblazer, and passionate about her work. She is dedicated to research.”
“Even though I don’t work with a lot of deaf students, all the info could be applied to other school life skills.”
“Very informative. I learned a lot, especially about Deaf awareness/culture.”
Thank you, Jill!
Filomena Connor, MS, OTR/L
February 15, 2014