Talk with a health educator - MaineHealth Learning Resource Center Find health information - MaineHealth Learning Resource Center

Partnership for Healthy Aging


Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging Conducts A Matter of Balance Coach Training for the Deaf
Submitted by MOB Master Trainers Emily Farah-Miller, Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging and Jon Knopik, Central Minnesota Council on Aging

The Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging in North St. Paul, Minnesota, recently hosted A Matter of Balance coach training that included six members of the Deaf community from the Deaf Community Health Workers Initiative, two interpreters and nine hearing individuals. At the start of the coach training, the Master Trainers reviewed the following tips provided by the interpreters to ensure the training would be a positive experience for both the Deaf and hearing coaches:

  • In a group setting, each participant should raise their hand before speaking. Have participants wait for a Master Trainer to call on them before they speak. This allows time for the interpreter to point to the individual who is about to say something so that the Deaf participant knows who is speaking.

  • Address Deaf participants directly while speaking to them. Do not watch the interpreter.

  • While speaking, do not speak slower or pause to allow for the interpreter to catch up. Speak in a normal tone and follow the interpreter's cues.

  • One person should speak at a time. Side conversations could be perceived as though you are talking about someone in the room. Also, the interpreter has a hard time determining whom to interpret for if two people are trying to speak at the same time.

The combined Deaf and hearing coach training was a success. The Master Trainers who led the coach training offer the following recommendations based on their experience:

  • When it is necessary to write notes, the Deaf need time to write without conversation taking place. Consider offering pre-written notes so you can continue speaking.

  • When referring to a page, be sure to give the Deaf ample time to look up the page, scan it and then return their attention to the interpreter before you continue with verbal directions.

  • Discussion during meals and breaks are very difficult because the Deaf person and interpreter cannot eat, watch for conversations and sign at the same time.

A Matter of Balance Class in American Sign Language
In October 2010, Coaches Daryl and Janet Gehlbach (Janet herself is Deaf) became Minnesota's first coaches to teach A Matter of Balance entirely in American Sign Language to Deaf participants without the use of an interpreter.  The class was held at Lyngblomsten Apartments in St. Paul, Minnesota.  At the end of the eight sessions, class participants shared the following comments:  "Wonderful!"  "Enjoyed it a lot!"  "Hope other Deaf people can take the class too!"  "Enjoyed the exercises!"

Deaf Community Health Workers will offer four more MOB classes to the Deaf in American Sign Language in 2011.


 A Matter of Balance Home




110 Free Street | Portland, Maine 04101 | (207) 661-7001