University of Edinburgh

The Transition Processes for Young Deaf People

Presented on Wednesday 11 November 2009

Billy Docherty

Donaldson's Transition Project

The Transition project at Donaldson's has been running for the last 3 years with us achieving excellent results in supporting young deaf and hard of hearing people during the various stages of transition in their lives. The project recently won the Herald Society Award for Equality Initiative of 2009. A huge part of the success of the project is the Youth Committee which helps us plan and run the events. The committee comprises of young people who are students from the school and other young people we support in the community.

The committee is an excellent way for the young people to meet new friends, build on their confidence and self belief, working towards achievable targets and to give back the control of the project to those people who are participating. Over the last year the young people organised and managed and participated in a 4 day residential, an empowerment day, a 1 day a week project with Article 12 on knowing their rights and participated recently in an empowerment through drama day.

The project is supporting around 92 young people from all over Scotland and is still receiving referrals from various sources including colleges, social workers, families and self referrals. The work we do with each individual is different depending on their needs and level of support they require. Within the school we work with the students mainly in the high school helping them with the choices they are making and for getting ready to move on into higher or further education as well as helping them to access services within their local communities.


As part of the process I start work with the S3 students looking at work experience and college placements. We work as a group and research both colleges near Donaldson’s and Colleges in their home area. This allows us to start making contact with support services in each college. As part of the school curriculum students have the option to attend a college as part of the school links program once they are in S4. It is at this point we start working on Building a CV and Preparing for interviews. This is also a good chance to work with the young people on form filling and looking at independent travel.


The students are encouraged to try one of the school link courses at college; part of this work is helping them with starting to independent travel. This is a major step for the young people and one that we have to take on an individual basis. Some people find independent travel easy and a natural progression and some young people really struggle with this process.

Each young person will have the chance to participate in work experience week which normally happens in June. Students will have a choice of placements which they have to apply for and then attend an interview with the placement prior to them being accepted. Again this allows us to work more on independent travel as well as polishing up their skills in form filling and preparing for interviews. The young people will be invited in the within this year to either a peer support day or an empowerment day which is arranged by the members of the youth committee. This is their first chance to see what the committee does and gives them the chance to see what can be achieved when working with others.

S5 & S6

During these years the young people have the chance to carry on with their college placement as well as participate with further work experience. It is at this stage we invite the young people to become involved with the youth committee. This gives them the chance to meet other young people who have transitioned out of school and to learn about their experiences either in college or the work place. Within these last 2 years I will visit the young person in their local area to look for college and work experience placements, local activity groups and local services which they may need in the future. The school guidance teacher and I work with the young people one to one giving them the chance to discuss any worries or concerns they may have regarding leaving school and moving on. We are also in more contact with the family at this point to keep them involved in the changes that are about to happen and for them to help support us in this process.

Continued Support

As the young person moves on from their school they have the continued support of the project. This involves us being included in meetings with their support services and their college or work placement. This service allows the young person to have someone support them who knows about them and can support them with any problems they may be having during this first step in the transition from school. During this time we will help them update their CV and start work on future planning using our lifeplan booklet. It is at this point the students use the service on a as needed basis, sometimes the students only contact us again if they looking for a change of course or need help with moving on from college. The young people have to choice to keep working on the youth committee and everyone is invited to attend the residential weekend or the peer support day when arranged. For some of the young people the service offers a huge support in the area of lifeskills. These young people are normally struggling with the transition and require us to continue to support them on a more regular basis. This could include working on more budgeting and money skills, continued support with employment or further education, help in finding staff for them using direct payment or someone who they can contact if they have any worries or concerns. We arrange workshops and courses for these young people to attend all over Scotland and this gives them the continued contact with their peers as well as the chance to improve their skills.

Support days and residential weekend

We received funding from the Equality Unit within the Scottish Government to set up the youth committee and to hold 3 residential weekends and 2 empowerment/peer support days within 3 years with the support from RNID. All the young people who are involved in the project is given the chance to attend these events. The youth committee works along side me in preparing and running these days and weekends which allows us to make sure that the content is both interesting and relevant to what the young people want to learn about. To date we have held:

A. Residential weekend on accessing work and further education

B. Residential Weekend on democracy and voting and personal safety and first aid training.

C. Peer Support Day on employment

D. Empowerment day 'Having our say'

E. Empowerment through drama. Our next residential weekend will be held in February 2010 and is a joint project with NDCS.