Scotland has around 758,000 deaf and hard of hearing people. While some may use BSL, there are many who wish to communicate using English. For this group, the availability of electronic notetakers is crucial.
Recently, 9 such professionals achieved the Signature Level 3 certificate for language service professionals working with Deaf and Deafblind people (Notetaking). They are the first such group to set this new benchmark of professionalism.
Each of these newly recognised professionals will be in the vanguard of the drive to make sure deafness and hearing loss is no barrier to communication with the world around you. Effective communication is the path to social inclusion for all Deaf and Deafblind people.
Signature communication manager for Scotland, Doug Bradley, recently met with one of these language service professionals, Louisa McDaid. She is a former secretary and vice chair of the association of notetaking professionals. He asked her about the group’s achievements and of the work that electronic notetakers do.
How did you get involved in notetaking?
I was initially attracted to the variety of the work and flexibility of hours, whilst studying for a Masters in Theology. That’s quite a career change! I obtained my Level 2 certificate in electronic notetaking for deaf people in 2004 and loved my work straight away.
Have you always been involved with deaf and hard of hearing people?
Not at all. Until I found out about the work and the impact we can have, I really did not know a great deal about hearing loss.
I have also worked as a communications officer for RNID, and undertook Stagetext training to become a theatre captioner for deaf people. I was the first in Scotland!
I love what I do, and we all work so hard to make sure we do our very best for our clients. I enjoy the theatre myself and I am passionate about deaf people also being able to make the most of the culture and entertainment available in Scotland.
What kind of work do ENTs do?
All kinds! Think of the situations where you may need an interpreter, and for many deafened people we are their equivalent. We cover medical appointments, conferences, job interviews, lecturers and court appearances.
You name it, we do our best to help with it. We generally work freelance, and we rely on reputation and word of mouth at the moment. I am keen that we can raise the profile of the profession and that service providers become much more aware of the needs of all deaf and hard of hearing people.
I am also studying for my Level 3 in BSL at Anniesland College, and hope to undertake Lipspeaking studies in future. I want to be able to help anyone with a hearing loss to overcome their barriers to communication. Once you become involved, it really drives you on!
What is the future of ENTs?
Good question. It is in our hands. I think we need to make people more aware of the help that is available, for the service provider to communicate with its users on the one hand. On the other, deaf and hard of hearing people need to be aware of the right to request communication in their own language, be it BSL or in English. Just ask!
Thank you to Louisa for taking the time to discuss the success of all 9 notetakers, and the work that they do.