Thursday, 12 June 2014

Skillstep: Week 3

I have just finished my third week of Skillstep and, as with my previous Skillstep posts, thought I would share with you what the group and I have been up to this week.

It's been an enjoyable few sessions in week 3, especially because of the fantastic kitchen skills session we had during Wednesday morning where the group and I made pizzas and cheesecakes! The mobility session in the afternoon was rather interesting too, providing the opportunity to discover the different canes that I had never been introduced to before, having a feel of them and comparing them to my own long cane. Wednesdays have quickly become my favourite day in the Skillstep week!

During Tuesday's session with Maureen, we touched upon the different learning styles (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) and identified our own preferred method of learning through a table exercise. I learn kinaesthetically. As a visually impaired person who also suffers from hearing loss, visual and auditory learning can be lost on me sometimes and quite difficult to follow. I much prefer to be involved in a task where I can use my hands and feel like I am applying the skills I am learning, and go through the process in my mind, which can then be easily used again in the future as I have tried it out beforehand.

We also observed a mock interview between Maureen and Julie, the Skillstep Co-ordinator, and made notes of the body language, voice / voice tone and language used between both the interviewer and interviewee, what worked and what could have been improved. Next week, we will be doing our own interviews in groups of 3 and each have the chance to become the interviewer, interviewee and observer. In preparation, the group split in half to think of generalised questions to then be fed back to the group as whole that we can use for next week while performing our role plays of practice interviews. These will be filmed for our evidence-based portfolios.

On Wednesday morning, we had a cooking session with Glynis - and I think we can all agree that it was the most enjoyable session of the Skillstep course so far! We made our own pizzas and cheesecakes, and worked together as a team to prepare the ingredients and use skills such as whisking, chopping, peeling, slicing and spreading - with supervision from 3 sighted staff members on hand to help. Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of my pizza to show as it was long consumed before we realised to take pictures! Julie kindly took a photo of my cheesecake before that was quickly consumed too!

The food was absolutely wonderful, and the session helped us to gel more and bond over a fun and creative task. Members of the group who weren't that interested in this session beforehand even admitted to enjoying it a lot more than they thought they would!

In the afternoon we had another session with Gary, this time looking at the different mobility aids that are available - from symbol canes and long canes to guide canes and walking sticks, and the different tips such as the pencil tip, roller tip, roller ball and jumbo roller tip. Gary discussed some of the useful aids that can be used in conjunction with a cane - for example reflective tape, red tape to signify hearing loss, a hi-vis jacket, and GPS and tracking tools such as a Trekker Breeze or Blindsquare for the iPad and iPhone.

Towards the end of Gary's mobility session, we looked at how to guide someone with a visual impairment correctly and some of the wrong ways that sighted people demonstrate! After Gary talked through some of the techniques used, we each had the chance to be guided and to guide in pairs - walking around a room, going through a door and walking up and down the stairs. Quite a few of us guide already, so this was a great opportunity to brush up on our guiding knowledge for future use.

On the final day of the week we had our usual IT session with Linda and Neil. We had time to go through our folders, mark our work and ensure that there were no gaps in our portfolio work so far. We continued to work through the entry level and level 1 tasks for our evidence-based portfolio to show that we have a basic knowledge of using Microsoft Word with assistive technology such as ZoomText and JAWS. Most of my Thursday was occupied completing the CV task and I am now about to start Task 26 of 29. I will continue through the tasks next week and hopefully have them completed very soon!

You can find out more about Skillstep by clicking here and can register your interest to the course via e-mail.