Y is for Your Needs

This is Julia Clark Kennedy. Julia is a social work assistant in our Sensory Support Team.

Y is for Your Needs

The Sensory Support Team supports people with hearing or sight loss. This can include providing special equipment like flashing or vibrating smoke alarms - as well as help with accessing services, finding local support groups or general advice to help someone settle into independent living. 

As a deaf person, Julia has firsthand experience of the unique challenges faced by people with hearing loss. Julia provides a broad range of advice to the people she supports, and she can empathise when working with a range from individuals, from people who are hard of hearing to those with complete hearing loss.

From offering guidance on the latest assistive technologies that can help people stay safe in their homes, through to being a compassionate supporter for people struggling in difficult times, Julia is always there to offer a helping hand.

One key aspect of Julia's role is her work with deaf children and young people. When a child receives a diagnosis of hearing loss, a big adjustment is required for them and their parents.

Julia is there to help the child to access the special resources and support they need, while helping parents and carers understand all the different ways in which life for people with hearing loss can be very different - but also the many ways in which life is just the same.

Julia takes pride in being a role model, demonstrating that hearing loss doesn't stop a person having a successful career. When parents of deaf children meet Julia for the first time it can be a big comfort for them to see that hearing loss hasn't stopped her from building a full-time career. It's also a chance for them to see the range of adaptations that can be made to support deaf people in work, such as sign-language interpreters.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about deafness and hearing loss, which Julia says she enjoys challenging as part of her role: "It's important for hearing people to understand that not everyone within the deaf community is the same. There are varying levels of hearing loss and lots of communication barriers - there is as much diversity in the deaf world as there is in the hearing world. For example, not all deaf people sign. You can't just approach deaf people because you know some basic sign language."

FACT - British Sign Language (BSL) is its own language and not everyone who communicates in BSL understands written English.

Many people with hearing loss communicate using BSL but not everyone who is deaf has had the opportunity to learn it. Some people with hearing loss didn't receive the benefit of deaf-inclusive education and may never have been taught BSL.

Julia is a big advocate for helping hearing people to better communicate with friends and colleagues who are deaf or hard of hearing. Making small changes can make an enormous difference in helping people with hearing loss to feel valued and understood. For example, when trying to catch the attention of someone who is deaf, you need to be physically seen by them or get their attention through physical means like gently touching their shoulder.

And the best part of the job? It's when people become so empowered they no longer require help from the Sensory Support Team.

Julia says: "When a person feels they are being empowered and they are becoming very independent in their daily life and I am no longer needed, I think for me that is the best part of my job. But there are some people who just can't live without that support - for example if their first language is BSL and they need long-term support to be able to translate the simplest of letters because they can't read English. Every time I see these long-term service users we have a laugh, and we share a great working relationship. The good bond we have with those we work with makes the job so special."

Julia, thank you. Your work in supporting people to overcome barriers that affect their daily living arrangements changes lives for the better every day. You are a brilliant role model and a tireless advocate for deaf people living in Dumfries and Galloway

Page last updated: 13/06/2024
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