Student drives change for the Deaf community

21st May 2024

A Painting & Decorating student from Solihull College & University Centre has been juggling his academic pursuits with a part-time role supporting a fellow Deaf student.

Throughout his journey at the College, Haaris Khan, aged 20, has not only excelled academically in his Painting & Decorating course, but has also dedicated himself to supporting fellow Deaf students in their integration into college life. From offering guidance to sharing his own experiences, Haaris has been a beacon of support and encouragement to his peers.

More recently, Haaris took on an official part-time role as PA Support Worker with Sign Life. Upon learning about the company, dedicated to employing Deaf individuals in the community, Haaris wasted no time expressing his interest in supporting individuals one-to-one.

Student standing smiling at camera
Haaris Khan has excelled academically while supporting Deaf students in their College integration

His proactive approach led to an interview where his passion and dedication shone through, securing him a position that aligned perfectly with his aspirations. He currently supports a student at the College, Paul Sargent, bringing him to college and picking him up at the end of the day.

In addition, Haaris is now gearing up to become a counsellor. Inspired by the lack of Deaf counsellors, he’s decided to bridge the gap by embarking on an online Counselling course with the College, with plans to advance to the face-to-face Level 3 course in September.

Haaris explains: “I want the Deaf community to have access to direct, personal, and private support for a more inclusive and therapeutic experience. Being deaf myself, I understand the importance of having a counsellor who can communicate effectively through sign language.”

Two students looking at camera and smiling
Haaris supports Paul Sargent, bringing him to and from college

Haaris has found his time on the Painting & Decorating course enjoyable and enriching. His lecturer, Sean Tracey, has basic signing ability, allowing for effective interaction, and there’s also always an interpreter present. Haaris often relies on body language to communicate with fellow students, who frequently approach him for assistance and express interest in learning sign language.

Deaf Support Coordinator, Claire Whatmore, has been a key figure in Haaris’s journey and has provided invaluable support, ensuring that Haaris receives the necessary accommodations to thrive in his studies and career aspirations. She comments: “Haaris is inspirational, over the last three years I have witnessed his personal journey of growth, self-awareness, and confidence. He has naturally become a Deaf role model and source of support for fellow Hearing Impaired and Deaf students, I couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Haaris shares: “Claire has given me lots of help and encouragement. She has made sure everyone is aware of how to support me, and her dedication has been instrumental in my success.”

We look forward to witnessing the impact Haaris will undoubtedly continue to make as a student at the College and as a strong ambassador for the wider Deaf community in Birmingham.

Find out more about the College’s Painting & Decorating courses: Painting & Decorating