1st Witchford Brownies had some very special visitors recently when they started working towards their Disability awareness badge, focussing on communicating with deaf people and the work of Hearing Dogs for People. Dino is a Hearing Dog and he came along with his recipients, Jean and Gerry Lawrence. Hearing Dogs for Deaf People are exceptional dogs. Not only do they alert their recipients to sounds such as the alarm clock, doorbell and cooker timer, they can be life-savers by making sure their recipients know about smoke alarms or carbon-monoxide alarms. The Brownies learnt that Hearing Dogs do this by taking their recipients to the different sounds, with the exception of the emergency alarms: in these cases the dogs alert their recipients and then lay down because it would be dangerous to be taken to the fire.
Jean brought along a bag of sounds and explained about the ‘touch and tell’ method that Dino uses to tell her about them. She also showed us the sign language she uses for Dino to follow. After this, we watched a short film about a (very cute) Hearing Dog in action and then played an interesting version of musical statues. Jean used a handkerchief to represent the music (big actions being loud music and little actions being quiet music) and the Brownies had to watch very closely to see when the ‘music’ stopped. This took a lot of concentration and helped us to appreciate some of the challenges faced by deaf people in a hearing world.
The evening ended with Jean teaching us how to sign ‘Brownie Bells’, so we now finish our meetings with everyone singing and signing simultaneously.
Amy Dyson, a Brownie Leader, said: ‘The Brownies had a great time with Jean, Gerry and Dino. Jean captured the Brownies’ attention and they thought Dino was adorable. Indeed, later that evening, I received emails from parents telling me that they had already been taught some of the sign language.’