Each issue, a different professional shares their expert advice and gives information to help you support your child. This time Cheryllous Norris, a helpline officer here at the National Deaf Children’s Society, shares her insights.
What does a helpline officer do?
We provide guidance to families about their child’s hearing loss. This could involve providing information on our services and events or directing families to one of our experts for specialist support.
Who can use the helpline?
Anyone can contact us for information or advice. Most of our callers are either parents, or professionals working with deaf children and young people, such as Teachers of the Deaf, audiologists and speech and language therapists.
What will happen during a call?
Typically a parent will give a bit of background about their child and then we’ll discuss options and next steps. Sometimes we’ll support the family directly but sometimes the caller may need signposting to another organisation.
What are the most rewarding parts of your job?
Seeing first-hand the positive impact of arrangements you’ve put in place is very rewarding. I feel most satisfied when families work closely with us and develop trust and confidence that we have their child’s best interests at heart.
What does a typical day look like for you?
The helpline team is available throughout the day. Typically this involves responding to email queries, helpline calls, live chats and text messages, researching information for parents and following up on existing casework.
What are most common reasons that people ring the helpline?
Parents most often want to know what to expect with regard to their child’s new diagnosis, how to communicate with their child and how to claim Disability Living Allowance.
What support can you offer to parents worried about their mental health or their child’s?
We explore the existing support that may be available and help them access that support. We also encourage parents to bring their child along to National Deaf Children’s Society events, to boost their confidence and deaf identity.
What advice would you give to parents of deaf children?
I’d suggest contacting the helpline initially to find out what support is available and have a chat about your concerns. Other parents of deaf children can be an invaluable source of knowledge and support. Local deaf children’s societies are also great places for meeting other families and making new friends.
How can parents access the helpline?
To access our helpline, parents can:
- call our Freephone Helpline (Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm) on 0808 800 8880 (voice and text)
- send a SMS to 0786 0022888
- email [email protected].org.uk
- or live chat with us via our website.
We also use the InterpreterNow BSL Video Relay Service, available at www.interpreternow.co.uk/ndcs. If parents speak another language, we can call them back with an interpreter.