Hello! My name is Farah Punjwani and I am profoundly Deaf. I started working with MacIntyre in September 2021 as a Programme Coordinator in No Limits, South Buckinghamshire. At No Limits, we provide bespoke education to young people of college age who have a learning disability or are autistic.
Being a Deaf employee at MacIntyre has been quite an interesting experience, as in my division we have never previously employed someone who can sign (in BSL - British Sign Language) and speak. I use a regular group of local BSL interpreters that support me every day with the phone calls, meetings and training.
Different types of sign language
My experience in MacIntyre has been quite eventful as every day is different. My first language is BSL and MacIntyre uses Makaton, another form of signing, with our learners. This is quite different to what I use. As a result I have to remember to shift and adjust constantly between BSL and Makaton on a day-to-day basis. There are some staff who are able to communicate with me easily and others who find it more challenging, which is when my interpreters come in very useful!
Helping everyone understand
Last year I set up Deaf Awareness Day for South Buckinghamshire, which was really successful.
I explained the Do’s and Dont’s when communicating with the Deaf and gave useful tips on Deaf Awareness. One activity involved the participants having to try and work out what song was playing when it was really quiet, using headphones. I also did lip-reading activities, where colleagues had to lip-read/work out what I was trying to say, without me using my voice. Other activities involved practising the alphabet and playing ‘true or false’ with questions based on being Deaf. The day went really well and both staff and students asked really interesting questions and are now more Deaf Aware.
Hopefully this will ensure they are better able to understand how to communicate with Deaf people in the future.