Prestigious award for inspirational deafblind teacher

JPCT 240713 S13300602x  Henfield. Deaf and blind teacher Lucy Jaques -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 240713 S13300602x Henfield. Deaf and blind teacher Lucy Jaques -photo by Steve Cobb

A deafblind teacher from Henfield who has been awarded one prestigious accolade and shortlisted for another has said it feels ‘amazing’ to have her successes celebrated.

Lucy Jaques, who uses an interpreter to communicate with students, has been named South East Teacher of the Year by the leading charity for deaf people, Signature, and shortlisted for national Teacher of the Year.

She said: “I am very excited. It really does feel amazing to be thought of so highly and because I have been nominated by a few of my students.

“It is a huge honour to feel that people do appreciate what I do, and I am quite modest sometimes so I didn’t totally expect it.”

Lucy, who is also the founder of Lucy Jaques Training Ltd, uses Deafblind Manual Alphabet Sign to communicate - this involves an interpreter signing onto Lucy’s hand.

She teaches one to one or small groups, and the interpreter is able to sign back what students are saying and explain facial expressions.

Lucy said: “They learn to have a real understanding of what it is like in real life situations, so it gives personal experience as well as academic learning.

“It is a personal draw to be able to teach as many people as possible and support as many different blind people as possible.”

Lucy’s current interpreter is Rebecca Long, a former student of hers who said she ‘couldn’t sign for deafblind people at all’ before they met.

She added: “It is absolutely deserved - she is unstoppable. I think that if there were a way that Lucy could have every single hearing sighted person in front of her she would be able to teach them all.

“Lucy never made me feel like I was unskilled or like I didn’t know what I was doing. She would tell us we could do it and say we will get better and better.”

Lucy is one of ten teachers to win a regional award and be shortlisted for Teacher of the Year. The winner will be announced at the end of July.

COMMUNITY AWARDS: Do you know somebody who deserves to be nominated for this year’s County Times Community Awards? Nominating is easy - see p79 of today’s newspaper for details.