Communication support helps students get work ready

Sarah at an aged care centre seated beside an elderly lady. They are looking at each other and smiling.We know communication skills are important for all of us in the workplace. But what if you aren’t able to use speech to communicate or your speech is difficult for others to understand, will that limit your ability to work?

People with complex communication needs may use a range of methods to communicate including signs, gestures, communication cards, books, boards or Alternative or Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices. The Independent Living Centre have been working alongside Leeming Senior High School Education Support Centre to support their students with complex communication needs. As part of the school’s Workplace Learning program staff have been supporting students to develop communication skills needed in the workplace using a range of communication methods including AAC devices.

Angus is holding his AAC device and standing in front of a Bunnings employeeStudents have been supported across a wide range of workplaces from retail stores to aged care facilities as well as more supported Disability Enterprises.

There are a whole range of reasons that we communicate throughout our work day. While these vary greatly across workplaces, some common reasons a work experience student may need to communicate include:

  • Greeting and introducing themselves to work colleagues
  • Reporting on a finished task to a supervisor
  • Ask about their tasks
  • Ask for help if needed
  • Say if something is wrong
  • Social chat at break times
  • And a range of workplace specific communication opportunities!

Harry uses his AAC device in the lunchroom. He is smiling and leaning over a table with his finger on the AAC screenSupporting students’ communication can increase their independence, self-esteem and build working relationships. For example:

  • Being able to directly ask your warehouse supervisor what your next job is, rather than relying on an Education Assistant to speak for you, can be a great step towards developing independence and confidence.
  • Being able to chat in the lunchroom about which Footy teams you think will win this weekend allows you to connect with colleagues and join in the workplace culture.
  • Being able to let someone know if you’re in pain and need your medicine allows you to be helped more quickly before things escalate.

Do you know someone who might benefit from communication support to assist them at work or other areas of their life?

If you’d like to find out more about the range of communication systems available contact our Speech Pathology Team on 9381 0600 or to arrange an appointment.

If you’d like to find out more about the services ILC can offer to schools contact the Community Allied Health Team on 9382 0200 or or view the ‘Therapy and Technology in Schools – Helping students to communicate and access the curriculum’ brochure here.

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