Learning and Interactions - conference programme

Seashell Trust and Sense logos

Additions to the programme will be posted here throughout the summer.

Plenary speakers
Workshop leaders

Registration now open - apply now!


9.00 Registration and coffee

9.40 Welcome

9.50 Plenary 1:
Mirror Neurones and MSI Children – A New Perspective
Jan van Dijk
10.50am Intensive Interaction and learning: from theory into practice
Graham Firth

11.20 Coffee break

11.50 Plenary 2:
The education of learners with CHARGE syndrome
Gail Deuce

12.30 Lunch and exhibitions

13.30 Workshop session 1 (5 workshops – 45 minutes)

  • How do people with little or no formal communication let us know when things aren’t right?
    Anne Telling
  • Sleep Disturbance in Children with Sensory Impairment
    Professor Gregory Stores
  • Sensory integration and CHARGE
    Nicci Reeder, Seashell Trust
  • Communication Concepts
    Graham Nolan and Steve Rose
  • Stress in persons with deafblindness, congenital and acquired
    Dr. Jan Van Dijk

14.30 Workshop session 2 (5 workshops – 45 minutes)

  • Holistic Child Guided Assessment
    Heather Murdoch
  • The Olfaction Project
    Anne Gough, Seashell Trust
  • Transition
    Dawn Cameron and Heather Powell
  • Intevenor Training - 20 years on
    Jenny Fletcher and Eileen Boothroyd
  • Dying, Death and Bereavement
    Megan Mann

15.30 Coffee break

16.00 Workshop session 3 (5 workshops – 45 minutes)

  • Counting what matters: strategies for measuring and reporting the health and wellbeing impact of work with deafblind people with limited formal communication
    Benedict Leigh
  • Employment
    Katherine Watson
  • The Seashell education - Life is a Curriculum
    Veena Ramrakhiani and Nicola Brotherdale
  • The Dysphagia Project
    Ellie Dodd
  • Deafblind Awareness eLearning package for audiology professionals
    Donna Corrigan

17.00 - 17.30 Q&A


Mirror Neurones and MSI Children – A New Perspective
Jan van Dijk

During the last decade of the previous century Italian researchers could demonstrate that when a monkey observed another monkey breaking a twig in the brains of the monkey who carried out the activity and the one who observed it, similar motor neurons were triggered. The term “mirror neurons” was born. Extensive research has showed that there exist also mirror neurons for visual mirror neurons e.g. when we see someone yawning, subconsciously we imitate this. In mimicking of faces expressing emotions mirror neurons also play a role. This means that this system is also involved in learning of emotions. The absence of vision in a person must have a great impact, unless compensated for, on his/her emotional development. It may explain the high degree of ASD in totally blind persons.

It has been shown that observing an action of another person (e.g. squeezing a plastic bottle) far more mirror neurons are triggered when the action is accompanied with sound. It can be assumed that persons with multiple sensory impairment has a delay in the development of the mirror neuron system, which would explain the problems of imitation (language) and social emotional development. During the presentation it will be demonstrated how an educational approach of persons with MSI based on the knowledge of mirror neurons may lead to a more favourable developmental outcome

Intensive Interaction and learning: from theory into practice
Graham Firth

Graham Firth will follow on from the presentation of Dr. Jan Van Dijk, and will seek to draw out parallels from the developmentally supportive practices of Intensive Interaction with contemporary understandings of social constructivist learning theory.

The main thrust of his presentation will be on how we, as Intensive Interaction practitioners, can facilitate the acquisition and development of fundamental communication skills through the sustained use of Intensive Interaction as an equitable and genuinely socially inclusive pedagogical approach: Intensive Interaction is what we teach, and Intensive Interaction is how we teach it!

The education of learners with CHARGE syndrome
Gail Deuce

CHARGE syndrome is now considered to be the major genetic cause of congenital deafblindness. There has been discussion as to whether learners with CHARGE are distinct from the wider deafblind population. Gail has recently completed her PhD studies exploring this issue and the education of learners with CHARGE. In this presentation she will share some of the findings from this study, particularly looking at the potential learning characteristics and the implications of this for practitioners.


Holistic Child-Guided Assessment
Heather Murdoch

Sense Children’s Specialist Services (CSS) carry out holistic, child-guided assessments as part of their support for children with MSI and their families.  These assessments do not follow a set schedule and their structure and quality depend on the actions and decisions of the assessors. In this workshop, I will discuss the results of a two-year research project investigating the assessment processes used by CSS staff and the development of their expertise in this area. The project considered the approaches, procedures and constraints of child-guided holistic assessment and drew on script theory to analyse CSS practice and expertise. Following this, group discussion will consider the relevance of the project findings for other professionals working with deafblind children, and their practical applications.

Counting what matters: strategies for measuring and reporting the health and wellbeing impact of work with deafblind people with limited formal communication
Benedict Leigh

This session will be a participatory exploration of ways of building impact evaluation and reporting into ongoing and new work with deafblind people in a way that allows us to make choices, on an individual and a public policy level, about what to prioritise. It will explore local authority decision making processes in the current UK financial climate, and ways of informing and supporting commissioner choice. The session will also look at using research evidence to change practice and commissioning. Please come prepared to participate, and bring examples of your work with individuals, with groups, or with public policy.

Death, Dying and Bereavement
Megan Mann

Sense initiated a project relating to death, dying and bereavement. Although death is not an everyday occurrence within Sense services, it was recognised that when it does happen it can have a massive impact on all of those involved. The death of a service user, a staff member or a family member can have an impact on other deafblind people, staff members, family members and carers. There are practical and emotional issues that need to be addressed so the impact can be lessened as far as possible. The project focused on those issues, and how as an organisation, we can better support users of Sense services, family members and staff who are experiencing issues relating to death, dying and bereavement.

The workshop will highlight some of the issues raised and there will be a discussion on how the issues might be addressed.

Sleep Disturbance in Children with Sensory Impairment
Professor Gregory Stores

This presentation is concerned with the neglected topic of sleep disturbance in children who are severely or profoundly deaf including those who are also blind. The first part summarises aspects of modern concepts of sleep disturbance and its potentially harmful effects on child development, as well as the literature on sleep aspects of childhood sensory impairment. An exploratory study, using a sleep questionnaire completed by parents, is then described in which types of sleep problem were assessed in children who were seriously hearing impaired some of whom were deafblind. The questionnaire also provided information about medical and behavioural comorbidities capable of contributing to disturbed sleep, as well as harmful consequences of the children’s disordered sleep on parental health and well-being. Issues relevant to future and more definitive investigations of childhood sleep disturbance and sensory impairments are considered.

Dysphagia:  Mealtimes – Delicious but Deadly
Ellie Dodd

Sense has initiated a Dysphagia Project, providing safer and more comfortable eating experiences for those living in Sense accommodation – and raising awareness of not only the (potentially life threatening) risks associated with mealtimes, but service-user choice. Sense provides a dysphagia screening assessment for adults. The assessment seeks to identify risks or difficulties associated with eating and drinking, with a related support pathway.

This workshop will aim to provide a brief description of the rationale behind the Sense Dysphagia Project, and how it is being implemented throughout the UK.  It will cover outputs, findings and future developments.

Information on further workshops will be posted throughout the summer.

How do people with little or no formal communication let us know when things aren’t right?
Anne Telling

This presentation focuses on a research project that looked at how people with little or no formal communication tell the staff who support them when things are not right, i.e. when they are not happy with an activity or with something that has happened. It considers if and how staff respond to and understand behaviours, movements, vocalisations amongst other communications.

If attempts to communicate that something is wrong are missed or misinterpreted this could result in safeguarding issues; the project goes further however, recognising the importance of communication across the life of the person.

Deafblind Awareness eLearning package for audiology professionals
Donna Corrigan

Sense anticipates Audiologists will see an increase in patients with dual sensory loss in the coming years. Sense estimates there are currently 394,000 people in the UK with dual sensory loss, 254,000 of whom are aged 70 or over. Following research published in 2014 and consultation with Audiologists a new training package has been developed to help audiology professionals understand the effects and impact of deafblindness, and enable them to offer the right support. This workshop will describe the research findings and recommendations that led to the creation of the eLearning course and include a demonstration of the product which is due to launch 1st September 2015.

Intervenor Training in England and Wales, 20 years on
Jenny Fletcher and Eileen Boothroyd

Deafblind children and young people are a low incidence heterogeneous group. The challenge is to provide high quality, culturally appropriate support that can meet individual needs.

Intervenors can come from all walks of life and need little previous experience, just the willingness to learn. The workshop describes the importance of the role of intervenor and the value of training - developed over the past 20 years. The focus will be on how these principles can be used to meet local requirements for children with Multi- Sensory Impairment in their home, community and educational settings.

The presentation will be informed by the results of Sense’s recent work with Intervenors and their managers, which was part of UK government funded project exploring future workforce issues for the support of children with low incidence sensory impairments.

Communication Concepts: Transferring knowledge from academia to the front line
Graham Nolan and Steve Rose

This research project will highlight the journey of a variety of UK based support staff being trained in “communication concepts” (at minimum the concepts include: Bodily Emotional Traces, Negotiation, intersubjectivity and Personal Narratives, all explored within a dialogical framework.) It will look at how confidence and knowledge are imparted to staff with no prior requirement of any formal learning in these theories. It will be a refreshingly honest approach- celebrating success and also showing clear examples of where mistakes were made! Some theories easily translated into practical training activities – others were less successful.

The project highlights the importance of transferring and filtering knowledge in an accessible way - enabling what we know from research in our field to have an impact on the delivery of direct support to deafblind adults. The research also highlights the importance of reflective practice and mentoring opportunities outside of the training room to consolidate knowledge and give participants an opportunity to apply theory to practice. The workshop will give participants a taster of some of the practical ways we attempted to impart theoretical knowledge in a training room setting. It is hoped that this will be a fun and lively workshop which will nurture future international collaborations.

Stress in persons with deafblindness, congenital and acquired
Dr Jan van Dijk

The following psychological definition will be used: stress occurs when an individual perceives challenges as overwhelming when compared to resources and coping abilities (Gunnar & Quevedo 2007). It has a negative effect on physical (brain development) and mental health (anxiety, PTSD) of the stressed person. It can be assumed that persons with deafblindness are continuously under stress, because of:

Environmental factors, non-responsive care givers (attachment dysregulation), neuro physiological  factors e.g. dysfunctioning of the arousal system, sudden deterioration of sight and/or hearing, life events (losing of partner or job).

Researches with cortisol measures (stress hormone) as the dependent variable have carried out to determine the factors which contribute to stress (Nelson et al, 2013; Bloeming 2012) and which intervention techniques decreased stress. It was found that improvement of communication and information (Sleeboom, in press. Vermeulen & van Dijk 1987), routines and providing proximity (rhythm, massage) contributed significantly to lowering of stress levels.

The Olfaction Project
Anne Gough

An overview of research into the use of specifically created scents to develop our own ground-breaking practice to help enhance and extend the communication skills of multi-sensory impaired (deafblind) young people with severe learning difficulties, enabling them to make choices and improve their life outcomes. 

Supporting young people to make successful transitions
Dawn Cameron and Heather Powell

This workshop aims to showcase research carried out by Sense which informed the 'Getting a Result Information Pack', a tool which supports practitioners to help young people make a successful transitions.  The research will be supported by Royal School Manchester who demonstrates how to put this into practice when working with children and young people with multi-sensory impairments and additional complex needs.

Katherine Watson

This presentation addresses work experience and supported employment options for deafblind people in ways which enable them to earn equitable wages and other employment benefits, develop new skills and make meaningful choices about their careers. It will explore Seashell Trust’s three stage approach to supported employment, the need for training and support, and ways in which Royal College Manchester’s curriculum develops work skills. The session will also include several case studies of former students who have progressed to employment and the college’s adapted supported internship.

The Seashell education - Life is a Curriculum
Veena Ramrakhiani and Nicola Brotherdale

The aim of the workshop is to highlight how the curriculum can be created into meaningful opportunities of learning where the student and development of his or her functional skills are placed at the centre.  We discuss how the countless possibilities where natural daily routines and activities take place can be turned into meaningful experiences.  Developing a curriculum from everyday life enables the student to have control and the ability to take ownership of their learning.

Sense Short Breaks
Caireen Sutherland, Development Manager, Sense

Sense are growing our short break provision and looking at new and innovative ways to provide a variety of short breaks to reach more people with multiple and complex needs.

An independent review by the University of Chester, concluded that young people and their families, benefitted considerably from a Sense short break. Individuals feel valued, make choices, join-in activities, build capacity for self-help and social skills - with tailored support to make their break a memorable and stimulating experience.  The DfE have recognised our short break provision as “far ahead [of other providers] in practice and innovative”. 

Deafblind Active at Sense
Callan Barber, Midlands Sports Coordinator, Sense

The poster display investigates the barriers that deafblind people currently face when engaging in sport and physical activity, it outlines the benefits of being physically active and the role of the Deafblind Active project in increasing the number of deafblind people accessing sport.

Person-centred active support
Janice Greatrex, Practice Consultant, Sense

In 1975 the United Nations acknowledged that people with learning disabilities should be able to live ‘ordinary lives’.  People with learning disabilities often need help to achieve this and Mansell (2005) advised that the help received needs to be individually tailored to each person’s situation.  It needs to be person-centred.  Yet in many services for congenitally deafblind people, there is a tendency for support staff to do ‘for’ people, rather than working ‘with’ them to enable them to do things for themselves.

A project was commissioned by Sense Practice Board to explore a way of introducing ‘Person-centred Active Support’ within Sense Accommodation Services; in order to achieve a shift in culture to staff doing ‘with’ rather than ‘for’ people and to evaluate whether this could lead to people leading full and active lives as independently as possible. The project group also considered whether a change in working practice affected staff members’ perceptions of their roles. This poster display will share findings and to outline how the knowledge gained can be used to shape services in the future. 

Plenary speakers

Professor Doctor Jan van Dijk
International Consultant and Lecturer
Emeritus Professor of Sensory Impairment, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands 1991-2001. Head Diagnostic Center, formerly Instituut voor Doven, Sint Michielsgestel, Netherlands

Prof Dr Jan van Dijk has been in the field of deafblindness for the past 50 years, as a teacher, as a researcher and, above all, as an advocate for the rights of people with deafblindness to live full, meaningful lives.  He has been engaged in extensive research, initially focussing on people with multiple sensory impairments and more recently having undertaken research focussing on individuals with deafblindness, incorporating neuro-biological perspectives about learning and behaviour.

Throughout his career he has had many articles published and in collaboration has produced several CD/DVD guides relating to his research and experience which also includes a publication by the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) of a guidebook/manual on his approach to child-guided assessment.

Graham Firth
Intensive Interaction Institute Director, Leeds & York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

After working for 6 years as a care-assistant at a residential hospital for adults with learning disabilities Graham then changed career to become a qualified teacher. Initially working in mainstream primary schools, he moved into further (adult) education for students with severe or profound learning disabilities, some of whom had severe challenging behaviour. After rejecting the then accepted curriculum model, Graham developed his teaching rationale and pedagogy by adopting Intensive Interaction as his main classroom practice.

In 2003 Graham took up his current post of Intensive Interaction Project Leader, where he continues to work to support others to adopt, develop and sustain their Intensive Interaction practices or services. Graham is one of the founding directors of the Intensive Interaction Institute, and has published a number of academic and research papers, Intensive Interaction books and learning resource over the past 10 years.

Gail Deuce
Specialist teacher for Multi-Sensory Impairment, Sense Associate, and freelance consultant, Stephen Hawking School and Sense

Gail Deuce has approximately 30 years experience in the field of special education, working initially in schools for children with severe learning difficulties and then a school for the deaf before moving into peripatetic work focusing on learners who are deafblind. Gail works as an MSI outreach teacher for a school in a London borough and is also a freelance consultant, in addition to becoming an Associate for Sense.

Gail has a particular interest in CHARGE syndrome and is on the committee for the CHARGE Family Support Group in the UK. She has recently successfully completed her PhD, exploring the education of learners with CHARGE.

Workshop leaders

Heather Murdoch
Head of the MSI Unit at Victoria School, Birmingham, and Honorary Lecturer at the University of Birmingham

Heather’s career has centred on the MSI/deafblind field; she has been a teacher, lecturer, researcher, writer, and trainer.  She is currently Head of the MSI Unit at Victoria School in Birmingham, an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Birmingham attached to the MSI programme there, and a panel member of the SEND Tribunal. Heather’s interests include assessment, communication and negotiation with deafblind pupils and the development of good learning environments. Her publications include the Victoria MSI Unit Curriculum, which continues to generate discussion and developments in practice.

Benedict Leigh
Strategic Commissioner for Adult Social Care, Oxfordshire County Council

As Strategic Commissioner for Adult Social Care for Oxfordshire County Council, Benedict’s current role sees him responsible for all adult commissioning, and for pooled budget with joint health and social care commissioning for adults. He was previously Chief Executive of Restore, a charity providing employment support for people with mental health problems, and has worked as head of campaigns and policy for Sense, and run mental health units for Deaf people.

Benedict is a psychiatric nurse, and a mental health first aid instructor. Benedict has been a leader and a volunteer for Sense Holiday Scheme for the past 16 years. Benedict is interested in evidence based practice, impact evaluation, and developing coherent responses to the increasing need for social care.

Megan Mann
Senior Acquired Deafblindness Practitioner, Sense

Megan has worked for Sense since 1997, holding different positions including Communicator Guide Co-ordinator, Acquired Deafblind Trainer, Outreach Manager and Practice Development Worker (Older People).  She currently holds a National post within Sense as the Senior Practitioner in Acquired Deafblindness. In her present post she has the responsibility of development and dissemination of good practice, undertaking complex case work, developing new materials and resources, and contributing to the development of existing and new qualifications in deafblindness.

Megan has been an assessor and moderator of qualifications in Deafblindness and has delivered training for statutory authorities, voluntary organisations and businesses. She has also worked with Sense International, delivering training to help establish acquired deafblind services in India and Romania. Megan regularly speaks at conferences and seminars, including the Acquired Deafblindness Network (ADBN), Deafblind International (DbI) and World conferences. She has tutored on the Diploma in Deafblind Studies Course in England, and has completed a Diploma in Counselling.

Professor Gregory Stores
Emeritus Professor of Developmental Neuropsychiatry, University of Oxford

Professor Gregory Stores MD MA DPM FRCPsych FRCP is Emeritus Professor of Developmental Neuropsychiatry at the University of Oxford. His background includes general medicine, neurology, clinical neurophysiology and psychology. He has directed clinical services for patients of all ages with sleep disorders and others with epilepsy. He has extensive research and teaching experience in the UK and abroad. Publications include contributions to international journals and textbooks, and several books the latest being: Stores G. Sleep and its Disorders in Children and Adolescents with a Neurodevelopmental Disorder. A Review and Clinical Guide, Cambridge University Press 2014.

Ellie Dodd
Speech and Language Therapist, Sense

Ellie Dodd, Sense Dysphagia Lead, is a Speech and Language Therapist. She has been working for 24 years with adults and children with special / complex needs.  Ellie has been leading the Dysphagia Project since 2011, she is an Advanced Dysphagia Practitioner (for adults with learning disabilities). She is particularly interested in understanding the high incidence of people with learning and sensory difficulties who cram their food, and hopes to learn from them in order to develop strategies to reduce the corresponding high choking risk.

Anne Telling
Resource Centre Manager, Sense

Anne Telling has worked with children and adults with deafblindness for over twenty-five years, providing direct support and support for families within education and social care settings. Anne joined Sense in 1998 working as a practitioner before becoming Education and Outreach Services Manager. The focus of this role has been to develop staff skills and knowledge on communication and a person-centred approach, enabling services to be person-led.

Anne has presented several papers of her work on communication at national and international deafblind conferences, and has co-led two research projects. Anne has a BSc degree in Education and Social Studies and an Advanced Certificate of Special Education: Multi-Sensory Impairment.

Donna Corrigan
Technology Coordinator, Sense

Donna Corrigan is responsible for embedding the use of technology by deafblind people across Sense. This involves monitoring, evaluating and influencing technological developments that offer assistance to deafblind people and their families. Donna is a fully qualified audiologist and hearing aid dispenser who practiced clinically until joining Sense in 2013.

In 2014, Donna led Sense’s involvement in a collaborative research project with The Ear Foundation; “Audiology Services and Hearing Technologies: The Experiences of Deafblind Individuals” This resulted in Donna leading the creation of an Deafblind Awareness eLearning package for audiology professionals which aims to improve service provision for deafblind people.

Jenny Fletcher
Deputy Head of Children’s Specialist Services, Sense

Jenny Fletcher has been working in Special Education for 37 years. She initially trained as a teacher of children with Severe Learning Difficulties (SLD) and worked in SLD schools before qualifying as a Teacher of children who are Deaf. Jenny worked as a peripatetic teacher for hearing impaired and in 2006 she attained a certificate in MSI at Birmingham University.

Jenny has worked for Sense for 25 years, in addition to supporting children and their families, Jenny has a great deal of experience working with adults with congenital Deafblindness. She has had extensive experience both with assessing people with Multi Sensory Impairment and delivering training throughout Britain and has supported Sense International working in countries throughout the world. Jenny has represented Sense speaking at International conferences on many occasions. She is Chair of the National Organisation of Intervenors and has been instrumental in the development of training for Intervenors since the late 1980’s.

Steve Rose
Head of Children’s Specialist Services, Sense

Steve Rose is a Health Care Professions Council registered speech and language therapist specialising in working with people with deafblindness.  He has previously worked as an intervenor and for Sense working with family support groups until returning to study to train as an SLT. Graduating from UCL in 2003 he subsequently worked in special schools in North London with children with physical disabilities, sensory impairments, autistic spectrum disorders and learning difficulties. 

Steve has particular interest in the development of eating and drinking skills and early interventions, including parent-child interaction therapy. He has recently completed his MEd in deafblindness at Birmingham University and is currently Head of Children’s Specialist Services at Sense.

Graham Nolan
Senior Trainer/Practitioner, Sense

Graham Nolan began his career as a play worker for children with learning disabilities.  He then did various roles for Barnet and Harrow council, working mainly in the area of respite and play schemes.  He started working for Sense in 2001 and began to develop a keen interest in understanding and developing communication strategies for working with adults with few formal communication skills. 

Graham holds a diploma in deafblind studies and is currently studying for his Masters in Communication and Congenital deafblindness at the University of Groningen, in the Netherlands. After several years in a management role and a few years in a project management role (developing TouchBase South East and doing some arts based projects) Graham has recently moved to a post within the Learning and Development team; a role where he is developing practice and training materials both internally and externally. Graham is also a qualified yoga teacher and has a special interest in mindfulness and the importance of being in the present when communicating with deafblind children and adults.

Heather Powell
Education Service Manager, Sense

Heather Powell is an Education Service Manager at the UK deafblind charity, Sense. She is responsible for managing the Bourne Resource Centre, which offers a range of education and lifelong learning programmes for adults with sensory impairments and additional learning disabilities. 

Heather has particular interest in the area of transition and recently returned from a two-year secondment, managing the Getting a Result project for Sense, funded by the Department for Education. This work explored how young people with complex needs can have a strong voice in planning their future. The project developed a range of good practice guidance materials that can be found on the Sense website. Heather has a Post Graduate Diploma in Special Education: Education of Learners with MSI from the University of Birmingham.

Dawn Cameron
Transition Coordinator, Seashell

Dawn Cameron has considerable practitioner expertise in the field of supporting children and young people with multi-sensory impairments, autism and additional severe and profound complex needs.  She has worked at Royal School Manchester, Seashell Trust over a period of fifteen years and has been in the post of Transition Coordinator for the past five years.  

Dawn is a published author in the Severe Learning Difficulties Journal, exhibiting tools she has created and the approach she uses when planning and supporting transitions for children and young people with autism and additional severe to profound complex needs.  

More recently Dawn’s work has been recognised in the Council for Disabled Children’s Digest.  Furthermore her contribution towards the development of the Sense ‘Getting a Result Support Package’, has been acknowledged, with an additional request made to publish a case study on the development and delivery of one of her person centred tools.

Dawn is currently studying for a Bachelor Honours Degree in Childhood Studies.

Anne Gough
Head of Royal School Manchester, Seashell Trust

Anne is a teacher of the deaf and specialises in working with children with Multi-Sensory Impairment and Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties. She has worked with sensory impaired children and young adults with additional complex needs for eighteen years and has a commitment to multi-agency working and to keeping the learner at the center of good practice.

Prior to her appointment as Deputy Head, Anne was Head of Sensory Support at the school and took the lead in developing individualized approaches to learning for the children and young people at the school.

In 2008 Anne received the British Regional and National Awards for Special Needs Teacher of the Year for her work at Seashell Trust.

Anne has provided Outreach Support and training to a number of schools and services in the North West.

She is currently involved in a joint research project with Professor Heather Murdoch and PZ Cussons on how and when scents are most helpful in supporting deafblind students’ learning. 

Katherine Watson
Job Coach, Royal College Manchester, Seashell Trust

Katherine Watson has worked at Seashell Trust since 2013. Before taking on the role of Job Coach at Royal College Manchester Katherine worked as the college’s Transition Coordinator and has supported over 55 students to transition into adult life. As a job coach, Katherine is responsible for developing employment opportunities for the college students and works closely with local businesses to ensure that these opportunities meet the needs of both students and employers.
Katherine has worked to develop pathways to support young people around future planning, employment and services, and is passionate about promoting employment opportunities for young people with complex needs.

Veena Ramrakhiani
Lead Practitioner, Seashell Trust

Veena has worked in the field of Special Education with children with complex needs and deafblindness for over fifteen years providing direct support within education. Veena has worked as an MSI Advisory teacher providing direct support, assessments and advice to families and children on education and social care.  Her current role at Seashell Trust is educational planning and support for students with MSI and supporting Intervenors. 

Veena has been a trainer on the Intervenor course and the Exploring Listening and Talking Hands course, and bespoke training for schools on deafblindness. 

Veena is a Trustee member of Hutchinson Deafblind Trust which provides advice, support to deafblind children and adults and their families living in Yorkshire.

Nicola Brotherdale
Director and Teaching Consultant for Children with Sensory Impairments, Sensory Linq UK Ltd.

Nicola is a qualified teacher of both children who are deaf and those who are deafblind (MSI). She has taught within resourced provision, specialist schools and colleges and worked as an advisory teacher across all age ranges.

Nicola has worked with local authorities to develop their policies and strategies for supporting children with MSI and has developed and delivered training packages to support families, schools, social and health care agencies and students.

Nicola is a Trustee member of Hutchinson Deafblind Trust which provides advice, support to deafblind children and adults and their families living in Yorkshire. CPD Certified logo

First published: Tuesday 4 August 2015
Updated: Tuesday 1 December 2015