Silent Lessons: Hiking With Israel's Association Of The Deaf
01/21/2014 - 19:03
Tali Nahir
Tali Nahir
Tali Nahir

In LOTEM, we guide groups of people with special needs in nature and after a year, I can say wholeheartedly that I have gained experience working with a wide range of populations. 

But then one Sunday a few weeks ago, I was informed that I would be guiding a group of people with hearing impairments. I was excited, but it was hard for me to imagine how it would work.

I decided right away that I would need to prepare long in advance. But how to prepare for a group that I hadn't yet had the opportunity to lead? Luckily, we have a LOTEM branch in Jerusalem, and one of their guides, Adi, had already guided groups of people with hearing impairments. Her tips:

1.) Instruction of people with hearing impairments is done with the eyes. Therefore, it's important for every stop along the trail to be in a comfortable and spacious place so that each person would be able to see the guide and, more importantly, the interpreter.

2.) Speak in a focused manner. 

3.) Emphasize the sense of sight and prepare a very visual outing.

With these concepts in mind and much excitement in my heart, I went to greet the group that arrived from Tel Aviv. I saw the bus approaching and my heart pounded. I began walking up the steps and after just seconds it became clear to me that this was going to be an amazing day.

The smiles were very wide.  I said "good morning" to some of the participants using sign language I had learned a few days earlier, which made them very enthusiastic.

The rest of the day was like a dream. Guiding them was very fun, just different from usual. When I spoke, the eyes of the participants were not turned towards me, but to the interpreter. Initially, I felt a bit uncomfortable with that, but very quickly I understood that this was part of the day and for them, part of life. 

Some names and concepts, such as "water line" do not exist in sign language; I wrote those on a board and showed them to everybody.

The participants were very complimentary throughout the day. They taught me many words in sign language and were very happy when they saw that I had learned them and was using them in the right context. 

That day we hiked on a trail around the summit of the Meron Mountain and we visited the grave of the Rashbi. Before evening, we arrived in Tzfat and toured the city.

Each time that I think about this outing, a big smile appears on my face. I am sure that it will remain like this always.

Tali Nahir is in her second year of her required military service, serving as a soldier guide with LOTEM - Making Nature Accessible. LOTEM is the leading organization in Israel providing accessible hikes and educational activities to people with special needs. A JNF partner organization, LOTEM serves over 30,000 participants a year.

 

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.

Add comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.