“Everyone has the need to communicate. The challenge is to figure out a way of providing all individuals with appropriate ways to meet this need, regardless of their age, diagnoses, or level of disability.” (Sigafoos & O’Reilly, 2004, p. 1229)
This quote best summarises the work that we do in ILC Tech, in supporting individuals with complex communication needs, and their families and support networks to enhance communication through assistive technology. Our team is always looking for new ways to be able to deliver information and advice, and evaluating how we make information more easily accessible to those who seek it.
We have recently developed two online training videos or “webinars” to share information about communication aids. These webinars are available for everyone to access on our website http://ilc.com.au/ilc-online-training/
The first webinar is entitled “Knowing Me” and is designed for parents, educators and health professionals who are working with children or adults with complex communication needs. It includes a overview of Personal Communication Passports (PCP) (Millar, 2003) and other communication tools and strategies that can be used to support periods of transition.
I first met Shaun in 2009 for an appointment to look at ways to support his communication. He was referred by his LAC and attended the appointment with his Mum. Shaun and his mum were featured the Cockburn-Kwinana LAC newsletter where Shirley shared her story:
“As the parent of a son with a disability, I worry about what will happen to him when I am no longer around. When involved in some “futures planning‟ with my LAC, I explained that my biggest worry is other people don’t understand what Shaun is saying as his speech is very difficult to understand. What would happen if he was sick and he couldn’t tell anyone, how could he tell someone about his likes, what he wanted to do, how would he have a say when I was no longer around to “translate‟ for him?” (Mother, S. Griffiths, Sounds Like Cockburn- Kwinana LAC Newsletter, Issue 13, 2009)
“The Personal Communication Passport provides information about Shaun such as, people in his life, family and friends, how he communicates, things Shaun likes to talk about, hobbies, his past, special moments and events in Shaun’s life, things that cheer him up, things that upset him, things he needs help with, health, and lots of other information. This is exactly what I have been searching for for years but no one was able to produce exactly what I wanted. Shaun now has visuals to show people what he likes and once he shows others the visuals it’s amazing how they can now follow what he is saying. The PCP is helping Shaun to become a more independent communicator.” (Mother, S. Griffiths, Sounds Like Cockburn- Kwinana LAC Newsletter, Issue 13, 2009)
I chatted to Shaun’s Mum recently. She told me that Shaun still uses his personal communication passport and that he recently used it to assist him at respite, to introduce himself, chat and get the know the new carers in this setting. He even has plans to put the communication passport on his iPad! Shaun’s Mum told me that she almost didn’t come to our appointment because she had seen so many Speech Pathologists since Shaun was a child and no one ever offered them services that looked at providing him with functional communication now through augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) aids or devices. This reminds me of our least dangerous assumption blog post by my colleague Yvette. The least dangerous course of intervention for Shaun was an approach that allowed him to maximise his strengths (he loves to chat, share stories and talk about current events!, he has excellent comprehension skills and unique and engaging personality) and overcome his difficult to understand speech. Shaun and his family found the communication passport approach suited them well.
Our second webinar is “Preparing Me”. This webinar is designed for parents, educators and health professionals who are working with children or adults with complex communication needs. It includes a general overview of communication tools that can used to support periods of transition. We receive lots of enquiries from organisations and support workers asking about available communication aids and technology. This webinar provides a great summary of these tools and how they might be used.
ILC Tech is available to provide training to schools and organisations to learn more about communication aids and technology. We would love to hear your feedback about our webinars and any suggestions you have for other webinar topics that you would find useful! Please feel free to comment below!
- Sigafoos, J., & O’Reilly, M.F. (2004). Providing the means for communicative ends: Introduction to the special issue on Augmentative and Alternative Communication. Disability and Rehabilitation, 26 (21-22), 1229-1230.
- Millar, S & Aitken, S. (2003). Personal Communication Passports: Guidelines for Good Practice. CALL Centre and the Scottish Executive Education Department. Edinburgh, Scotland. www.communicationpassports.org.uk