Creating stories with hearing impaired learners

"We had fun surely – but more than that, we enjoyed interacting with the words, with each other and our confidence grew.”

This comment was made by Ann, a participant with profound hearing loss, after one of our Let Loose workshops about word games.

For the workshops, artist Anthony Schrag devises games to get everyone working together and start being playful with words. One of the most successful games we played was Consequences, a game which will be familiar to many.  Anthony provides printed resources for the games, which enable everyone to refer back to instructions whenever needed. With communication considered, everyone joins in and we play the games together. The result was a collection of stories which are surrealist, funny, profound...

Read the stories here and decide for yourself!

Removing barriers

It’s important to create a welcoming atmosphere where people feel relaxed before joining a creative activity

At all Let Loose workshops Artlink provides a loop system to amplify the speaker and an electronic notetaker who types everything spoken which is then projected onto a screen. Ann told us that, “Because of the electronic notetaker and the pre-printed instructions, I think our brains were freed up from struggling with the communication so we could relax into the buzz of creativity...liberating stuff!" 

In early workshops we were tripping over microphone cables, constantly rearranging tables to find a way for everyone to see the projector screen. There are practical things to consider but it’s important to create a welcoming atmosphere where people feel relaxed before joining a creative activity.

Try it for yourself

All of the work and development process is shared on a new website. Here you can see images of the word games and other workshops in the series. We know that Anthony’s word games work well in a whole range of settings, so why not have a go yourself?

Through ongoing feedback, we try to understand the experiences of participants to inform our planning.  Communication for individuals affected by hearing loss can be a struggle; tiring and frustrating. In developing Let Loose we worked hard to build trust and provide reassurance.  We’ve met amazing, creative people bursting to take part in the arts and full of ideas.  We didn’t, and still don’t, always get it right but keep trying and learning from the expert feedback of the participants.

Read some stories and try the workshop activities for yourself on the Investigate Create website.

Artlink have provided a fabulous short story, Angel Wings, which you can download for free along with teaching resources.  The story, written by Anne Donovan, is a beautiful narrative by a child whose mother experiences mental health difficulties. Other literature-based projects incude book groups for people experiencing mental ill health and other issues addressed in fiction.

Susan Humble

Susan is Artlink's Audience Development Officer. For more information, events and resources you might be interested in please visit www.artlinkedinburgh.co.uk. If there is anything you’d like to discuss directly, we’d be very happy to hear from you and you can contact Susan by e-mailing susan@artlinkedinburgh.co.uk.