The Interview



Slide: Conducting the Perfect Interview

Video 2

Welcome Back! My name is Bryen Yunashko. In the last video we talked about the many ways to prepare for the assessment, including, how to gather pertinent information prior to meetings, determining communication preferences, building your assessment kit, and preparing yourself.

In this segment we will focus on the assessment itself, which entails two important aspects. We will start by talking about the assessment interview, and conclude by discussing how to appropriately assess your consumer’s technological needs.  Most assessments last between 1 to 1.5 hours. Some assessments will require longer meetings times, and might even require two separate appointments.

To ensure a successful meeting it is vital that the consumer feels comfortable.  There are a few things you can do to make sure this happens. First, develop good listening skills.  Second, ensure that all communication is clear. Third, make sure that your consumer is always “in the loop” and be able to identify when the consumer might have additional needs.

Slide: Arrival or Introductions

Remember, the first few moments of your arrival will set the tone for the rest of the meeting.  So, make sure you are warm and friendly from the get-go. Introduce your name and your name sign.  For example, “Hello my name is Bryen Yunashko, and this is my name sign.” If you have other team members with you, be sure to inform the consumer they are here too and introduce them one by one, explaining what their role is.  This ensures the consumer feels fully aware of their environment. Remember, the consumer might not be able to visually access the environment.

Ask the consumer what their name sign is and if there are others in the room, ask the consumer to introduce you to them.  Do not attempt to introduce yourself to the others on your own.  Give the consumer the chance to feel they are in control.  This will further ease their comfort.

Slide: Ensure the Consumer has Access to Clear Communication

Ensuring clear communication is pivotal. Once you and the consumer are seated, ask the consumer if communication is clear. If low-vision signing, ask if your signing is easy to read.  If you are using your voice, ask if you are speaking clearly or loudly enough.   If tactile signing, ask if they prefer to receive one-handed or two-handed signing. If one-handed, ask if they prefer to receive information with their right or left hand.

Also ask about environmental factors.  For example, is the consumer facing a window that is too bright for their eyes? Or is the background just too busy, or cluttered with too many objects? You may need to adjust your seating positions several times until clear communication is achieved. 

Remember, this is not an exact science. More than likely, you will have to rearrange your seating positions several times before you get it just right.  

Before starting the assessment make sure it is easy for all participants to access communication.  This means you might have to try out a few different configuration before you find one that is just right.

Beginning the Interview

Slide: The Art of Conversation

Before you begin the interview you want to make sure the consumer feels at ease.  To do this start with a little chit-chat to break the ice.  This helps the consumer to be more comfortable, but also helps you and the consumer to get used to each other's mode of communication.  In addition to chit-chat you can let the consumer know what the evaluation process entails.  This will ease any worries they might have had about the interview.

While we have a standard set of questions to ask the consumer, you must keep in mind that each deaf-blind consumer presents with unique needs.  It is this fact that makes your interactions with the consumer all the more important.  The more information you are able to gather from the client, the better overall recommendation you will have for him or her.  Your insights will also help justify your recommendations.

This is why the conversation is the most critical part of the assessment, and why we call it an art.  There are four keys to successful conversation: listening, observing, documenting, and validating.  If you employ all four tips, there is no doubt you will have a successful conversation.

Slide: Observations

Take notice of the space you are in and ask open ended questions.  The environment can be inspiration for some great starting points into conversation. Don’t hesitate to ask the SSP to describe the environment to you.  This will help you know what to bring up in conversation.

Slide: Listening

Listening is a key component of conversation. Active listening shows that you are engaged and care.  As the consumer shares about their life, make sure to ask questions about those experiences. This demonstrates that you are engaged and interested in the conversation.

Slide: Validation

Validation is another critical component of artful conversation.  Consumers want to feel understood.  When they share about their challenges and needs, they want you to provide validation. When the consumer expresses concerns and needs, show that you agree with the consumer and that those concerns are valid and you will note them.

Unfortunately, many deaf-blind persons do not have access to communication or community to express their daily challenges.   As their advocate, you have given them the opportunity to express their concerns, be heard, and be validated.  Your validation will help them open up and share more about their lives.  It will also make them feel that their concerns are valid and legitimate.

Slide: Documentation

Make sure to take notes throughout the entire interview.  Think of your notes from the interview like a rough draft. When you return to your office, you can pull details from your notes and insert them into your formal report.  There are several ways you can take notes during the interview: paper and pen, laptop, braille notetaker, or digital voice recorder.  Whatever your method, don’t forget to let the consumer know you will be taking notes. Otherwise it might seem odd that the interview stops and starts.

Remember your notes are a dumping ground for information from your interview.  You want to take down as much information as you can.  Don’t forget to note the environment.  Was it too noisy, dark, or bright? How does the consumer communicate with their family, friends and the community? What are their technological needs? Do they have additional disabilities? The more notes you take down during the interview the better your final report will look because you won’t have missed any important details.

Slide: Conclusion

Now you have finished the interview and taken your notes. The next step is to perform a technical evaluation.  This will allow you to provide the consumer with the best possible equipment to meet their needs.