This story comes directly from our participant, Chris. Chris is deaf and has battled with mental health problems over the last few years. This is his story, shared in his words.
I received a BA degree in Interior Architecture at university in 2015. During my second and final year there, I experienced a major communication breakdown between tutors, students, some unqualified British Sign Language (BSL) interpreters.
I lost my confidence in BSL interpreters. Moreover, there are high shortages of excellent, highly qualified BSL interpreters. During my time at university, it became an issue for me. Interpreters were unable to understand industry jargon relevant to the course. Architectural terms weren’t properly interpreted. There is a lack of appropriate interpreters in this area.
Sometimes BSL interpreters are unable to understand my signing as SSE (Sign Supported English) is a bit different to BSL due to grammar structure and different signs. I use mixed language; English, BSL and SSE when communicating verbally.
After numerous communication breakdowns at university, I worked extremely hard to obtain a very good degree. During university, my mental health particularly suffered. After graduating, I suffered from extreme burnout but was trying to quickly recover. Ultimately, I fell into a long-term period of mental ill-health.
Post-university, I thought my future was lost. I was supposed to be a Designer. To better suit my communication needs, I decided to pursue in 3D visualisation to become 3D Visualiser. Even though this meant I’d need to invest more time and money, I knew this would be the right course for me.
I was struggling to get my first step into employment and get my ball rolling. My friend stumbled across the Moving On Tyne & Wear website and sent me a text with a link. Quickly, I referred myself into the programme and explored if they could support me.
I met with my Navigator a few times and it became clear I knew what direction I needed to go into but needed a push in the right direction. I was introduced to Neil, a Volunteering Coordinator from North Tyneside VODA. We decided I needed to gain some practical work experience in the industry to give me a better chance of achieving my goals.
Neil helped me reach out to FaulknerBrowns Architects to enquire about opportunities at their organisation. When I found out they were keen to offer me a week of work experience, I was absolutely delighted. It would give me the opportunity to get valuable workplace insight and learn how people in this environment communicate.
I was initially apprehensive about my time at FaulknerBrowns, having the perception that I’d feel the pressure of oral communication. However, I was surprised to see there was little oral communication demand. Most of the time, we were able to speak through instant messenger. This meant I didn’t need an interpreter to speak to Architects and Designers. The instant messenger, Ring Central, was really easy to use and I quickly felt very comfortable.
Most of my personal 3D work used AutoCAD, 3ds Max, V-Ray and Photoshop. I had predominantly used AutoCAD rather than Revit when learning to do 3D modelling. During my work experience, I used Revit which not only helped me learn some skills but also highlighted that the software was important and relevant to me.
My work experience week also allowed me to work on a very large, multi-story building. This was something I’d never done before. It taught me valuable skills about which software worked best for this type of 3D work. I learned to solve problems I’d never tackled before.
I completed four rendered images for my portfolio during my time at FaulknerBrowns. They spent some time showing me how the organisation works and communicates with external organisations. To accommodate language barriers and working with 3D Visualisers around the world, they only communicate through email. This really put me at ease as it made me realise that my communication requirements shouldn’t have a negative impact on my job prospects.
Finally, I’ve had my first, real experience in an architectural/3D field which I can confidently add to my CV. The next step is for me to get into full-time employment or secure some more experience. I wouldn’t have been able to have such an experience without the help of Moving On Tyne & Wear and VODA. I am very grateful.
“FaulknerBrowns Architects are firmly embedded in the Northeast business community, employing over 100 exceptionally talented staff from the immediate region and delivering high profile regional, national and international projects. We love to be able to give something back to the regional community and the opportunity to support Chris’ desire to test and develop his architectural visualisation techniques was a perfect fit.
Chris was given the opportunity to be briefed by architects and to compare his work with the professional visualisers we use. We believe the experience was hugely valuable and hope that Chris is able to further develop his talents and find an outlet for his skills.”