Could you make Brian’s dream job come true?
He’s a talented graphic designer and, like many of us, he is counting down the days to his next big holiday.
The thing that makes Brian Kraus such a stand-out individual compared to most 30 year olds is not only his remarkable focus on making a success of life, but the fact that he is profoundly deaf and communicates in sign language.
The last few years have seen a dramatic turnaround for Brian, who now lives with his parents in Bicester.
He has faced many adversities, had a troubled youth after a special educational needs college course and was homeless and living on the streets at one point.
But, with the intervention of Oxfordshire County Council’s Hearing Impairment Team (HIT) and the support of a loving family, life has not looked so positive for years.
The team, which works out of Abbey House in Abingdon, has practitioners and social workers fluent in British Sign Language (BSL) who support service users with hearing impairments throughout the county - ensuring people from all backgrounds can flourish in our thriving communities.
The county council also has a Money Management Service, helping service users deal with day-to-day financial issues, saving money and spending wisely when appropriate.
The HIT and money management has transformed Brian’s fortunes.
His social worker is senior practitioner Neelam Ahmed, whose eyes shine with pride as she describes Brian’s long journey and some of the challenges he has faced.
She’s has been with him almost every step of the way, offering encouragement, practical help and support to him and his family.
Neelam said: “It’s been really difficult for Brian but he is doing so, so well now. Many people don’t realise the difficulties faced by people who are profoundly deaf like Brian.
“It is such a socially isolating condition that can have a devastating impact on people’s wellbeing and can leaving you feeling immensely low.
“It is perhaps even more difficult in you live with a hearing family and are not part of a hearing-impaired community.”
Brian is fluent in International Sign Language which he learned at a boarding school for deaf children in Germany and has now learned BSL. He has also tried to lip read, but learning to read English-spreaking mouths was mentally exhausting.
Neelam challenges: “Get a friend to mouth out a sentence to you and try following what’s being said. It’s incredibly difficult. Now imagine trying to do that all day long and in a foreign language.”
She further explained: “Even if you are the most outgoing of people, you face being excluded from situations and people forget that you cannot hear. It’s not a disability that has outward signs.
Using BSL to communicate with Brian, he agrees that times have been tough but he is now focussed on the future.
Crossing his fingers, he explains he hopes an Oxfordshire business will read his story and offer him some work experience or even an apprenticeship.
He wants to work and a firm to give him a chance to use his creative talents as a graphic designer or a painter and decorator. He wants a company that can recognise the challenges of his disability but have more focus on his many abilities.
But what Brian is most looking forward to is a forthcoming trip back home to Germany and seeing his childhood sweetheart who he met at school. She too is deaf and the two spend endless hours video messaging each other.
The trip is a poignant reminder that Brian is now in control. He had been unable to cope with money before. But with the aid of the Money Management team, he has saved for the three-week holiday, bought a suitcase, budgeted for some smart new casual clothes and is mentally geared up to travel silently in a hearing world.
With a thumbs up and a beaming smile, it’s clear Brian can’t wait.