Listen to Me 2018 Conference Programme

“Listen to Me” Multi-Sensory Impairment Conference, Thursday 10th May, Manchester Conference Centre

Book by Thursday 29th March to receive our early bird rate of £95, saving £50.

Find out more about the day and our speakers.


Conference Programme

9.30                 Registration, Coffee and Exhibition               

                        Tea, coffee, pastries              

10.00               Welcome and Introductions               

10.10               “What does MSI Mean?”

David Brown, Deafblind Educational Specialist              

The majority of children with deafblindness today have significant medical issues and, as well as difficulties with vision and hearing, they experience problems with other sensory systems, including the perception of pain, smell, taste, touch, and balance. Because every one of our senses is designed to develop and work simultaneously with all the others, a problem with one sense may result in problems with the functioning of other, apparently unrelated, senses. Two of these ‘other’ senses, the proprioceptive sense and the vestibular sense, are particularly important but often ignored. Knowing about these senses, how they work, what might happen if they are not working properly, and what to do about it, can make a surprising difference to the development of functional vision and hearing. As a result of this genuinely MSI perspective many behaviours that are generally thought of as ‘bad’ begin to be seen as actually quite smart adaptive responses. Sometimes accepting, re-directing, or even encouraging these behaviours can be much more helpful than merely trying to stop them.

11.20               Coffee, Networking and Exhibition                

                        Tea, coffee, biscuits               

11.50               “Communicating, Connecting and Travelling with Congenitally Deafblind People through a Landscape of Touch”

Paul Hart, Head of Research and Practice, Sense Scotland                  

Traditionally when thinking about communication and language development, we think of learning the language(s) used by others in the wider cultural community. Some argue that we need the perceptual abilities to perceive the language(s) around them and we need to learn from people who already are fluent in these language(s). This leads to a significant challenge for people who are born deafblind. They do not have the perceptual abilities to acquire spoken or even visually signed languages, due to their hearing and visual impairments. Neither can they find communication partners who are already fluent in tactile languages, because none truly exists. However, it also leaves an exciting question, which is at the heart of today’s presentation: how do people journey towards a language that does not yet exist? Exploring this question provides an opportunity to think differently about how languages might develop in the tactile medium and about the roles played by both communication partners in this process.                                   

13.00               Lunch              

14.00               A programme of workshop sessions including:

“The Role of Nurturing Touch in the Lives of People with MSI and complex needs”
Julia Barnes, Sensory Manager, Ravenscliffe High School

Self-regulation and self-stimulation: The Emotional Heart of the Child
David Brown, Deafblind Educational Specialist
Poor self-regulation is a very common feature of many children with MSI, and many factors probably contribute to this problem. As always, the best place to begin is with observation of the child’s existing spontaneous behaviours. Vestibular dysfunction is found throughout this population, for a variety of different reasons, and it plays an important role in the poor development of self-regulation abilities, yet the problem is rarely identified so is usually ignored and the resulting behaviours are misinterpreted. A consideration of the functions of ALL our senses can help us to understand why we selfstimulate, and also understand what any child’s self-stimulation behaviors tell about their difficulties and needs. The sensory, emotional, cognitive, and physiological aspects of self-regulation will be mentioned, and consideration will be given to the crucial importance of self-stimulation behaviours as self-regulation behaviours.

“Managing Behaviour in the Classroom for Learners with CHARGE Syndrome”
Dr Gail Deuce, Consultant MSI Teacher

Communication in the Tactile Modality”
Paul Hart, Head of Research and Practice, Sense Scotland
This workshop will explore in more detail how we can use gestures and actions from everyday activities to help support the development of communication in the tactile modality.  It will build on ideas highlighted in the morning presentation and will use films and practical discussions to illustrate how we can all match our communication support to the communication strategies already used by deafblind learners. We will also highlight how these ideas might apply to all learners with communication support needs.

Symbolic Communication: Listen to Me!
Michelle Jones and Vimla Ramrakhiani, Lead MSI Practitioners, Seashell Trust

Multi-sensory impaired children have limited visual and auditory skills to observe and listen, missing out on that all important incidental learning.  They rely primarily on co-active touch to explore people and everyday objects to give them that sense of shared experience and identity.  Symbolic forms of communication e.g. objects of reference, can only be introduced once these foundations are well established and the learner has reached the appropriate cognitive and communicative levels of development. 

We are going to explore and understand where the MSI learner is on this journey and how we, as the responsive adult, can support this communication journey.

“Deafblind Learner Voice and Transition”
Heather Murdoch, Head of MSI Unit, University of Birmingham

"Developing Communication for Multi-Sensory Impaired Learners"
Beccy Timbers, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist, Seashell Trust

This workshop will provide case studies that focus on the communication development of children and young people with sensory impairments.  These will include a range of Augmentative  and Alternative Communication (AAC) and intervention approaches that have been successful in supporting receptive and expressive communication for multi-sensory impaired learners.

14.40               Coffee, Networking and Exhibition                 

15.00               Workshop sessions continue.

15.45               Plenary

16.00               Close