Listening to the hearing impaired

Image credit: Mazergroup
Image credit: Mazergroup

Lester Thiessen may not hear everything in the world around him but he is sure that Sask Polytech is listening. Lester’s journey began with Saskatchewan Polytechnic’s Agricultural Equipment Technician certificate program. Now in his fourth year of apprenticeship training, Lester says the people at the post-secondary institute make all the difference.

“My instructors are the best part of my training at Sask Polytech. They work hard and they truly care about their students,” says Lester.

Lester has a hearing impairment, so faculty and Student Services support have been a key part of his academic studies. While training at Sask Polytech, Student Services provided Lester with a scribe, someone who can provide closed captioning during class using a laptop. Lester says it took a while to find a scribe who could type the information being spoken fast enough, but in the end it was a perfect fit.

“I was unable to hear group discussions and questions that other students ask, so I often stayed after class to talk with the instructors,” says Lester. “My instructors and classmates were very helpful and made sure that I fully understood the technical material.”

Lester completed his Sask Polytech certificate program with high marks. With the support of his employer, Lester is continuing his training as an apprentice through the Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission (SATCC). This year, Lester will complete Level Four training and write the Agricultural Equipment Technician certification exam.

Lester currently works as an apprentice at Mazergroup, a New Holland Agriculture Dealership in Moosomin, Saskatchewan. 

“We are incredibly proud of the way Lester has progressed,” says Trisha Evans, corporate manager of service operations at Mazergroup. “His time at Sask Polytech has been pivotal in his development. Each time he returned from training, his confidence and skills improved. He has challenged us at Mazergroup to think of new ways to communicate and is diligent in identifying any barriers to progressing as a Journeyman technician. Mazergroup is proud to have Lester as a key part of our team in the shop in Moosomin.”

In November 2018, Lester received the Young’s Equipment Inc. / Western Equipment Dealers Association Scholarship at the SATCC’s 2018 Apprenticeship Awards ceremony for the highest grade point average on completion of Level 3 Agricultural Equipment Technician apprenticeship training.

“The SATCC is dedicated to ensuring apprentices with disabilities have the tools to be successful throughout their training,” says SATCC chief operating officer Loreena Spilsted. “Our in-house registered psychologist performs assessments and verifications on our behalf, in addition to working collaboratively with Sask Polytech accessibility counsellors, so that apprentices receive the support and accommodations they need.”

If you are a student living with a disability, contact Sask Polytech’s Accessibility Services for support. Accessibility Services is committed to ensuring that equal access for students living with disabilities is provided at Sask Polytech. Students living with disabilities, together with their accessibility counsellor, work together to identify the best solution for academic success.