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NECC Students Train to be Sighted Guides

Submitted by on June 17, 2014 – 5:59 pm
sighted guides

Sighted guides in training – Kaitlynn Leary of Haverhill assists Alex Canning of Salisbury, who is wearing goggles to distort her vision to give her a sense of what it is like to walk with poor or no vision.

On a recent spring afternoon students enrolled in Northern Essex Community College’s Deaf Studies and American Sign Language (ASL) classes, who are training to be sighted guides, could be seen walking the hallways assisting individuals who are both deaf and blind.

The Deaf-Blind Contact Center, housed at Deaf Inc, in Allston offered to provide free training to any of Northern Essex’s ASL students interested in becoming a trained sighted guide. Sighted guides accompany deaf and blind individuals to recreational events such as kayaking or the beach and offer one on one support.

This partnership holds positive benefits for both the student and the deaf and blind individual. The students get to strengthen their American Sign Language skill while communicating with the clients and the clients receives the support they need to lead a fulfilling life.

sighted guides in training

Allison Chang of Brighton practices guiding Stephanie Mcquiggins of Pembroke, who is blind and deaf, through the NECC hallways.

The training involved classroom instruction where different scenarios were profiled and presentations where tactile communication was reviewed. The classroom instruction was followed by practice guiding deaf and blind individuals.

The students received experiential training by wearing goggles that gave them tunnel or limited vision so they would have an idea of what their client experiences. The ethics of being a sighted guide were also reviewed.   

All 17 students received certificates of completion. The students are now available to be contacted by the Deaf-Blind Contact Center as outings are organized and in need of support service providers. 

“This was a real opportunity for our deaf studies students to work directly in the deaf/blind community,” says Luce Aubry, coordinator of the deaf studies program. “This is authentic.”