How do you communicate if you can’t talk?

By Harriet Korner
Client Services Manager, Independent Living Centre NSW

What if you woke up one morning and could not speak? How would you answer the phone or order a cup of coffee at the café? This is the reality faced by people with complex communication needs every day, all their lives.

But just because someone cannot talk does not mean they have nothing to say. Now with the help of assistive technology, everyone can speak their minds. Everyone can connect.

How, you ask? That’s where we come in. The Independent Living Centre NSW has partnered with the Telstra Foundation to pilot a project to assist people with complex communication needs. The project, called Everyone Connects – Connecting People with Complex Communication Needs, will be delivered across NSW in two Metropolitan Sydney Regions and four Regional and Rural Regions, launched in February 2014.

People with complex communication needs find it difficult to speak, may have a little speech or may not be able to speak at all. Some people may also have physical and/or sensory disabilities. They may communicate with gestures, sign language, pictures, speech generating devices and mobile technologies. People with CCN may have cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorders and acquired disabilities such as acquired brain injury, stroke and neurological disorders such as muscular dystrophy.

Telstra has at its core a purpose to create brilliant connected futures for everyone, and this new partnership speaks to that commitment.

Our workshops will target young people with complex communication needs aged 12-25 years. Our aim is to increase awareness of assistive technologies, including mainstream mobile and tablet technologies, accessories and accessibility options. Digital literacy will also be addressed to provide strategies for using telecommunications safely. There will be hands-on workshops and opportunities to try out a range of equipment (tablets, smart phones other speech generating devices), software and apps.

The workshops are also open to allied health professionals, family members or carers working with someone who has CCN.

Resources and multi-media information developed through the project will be available to those in NSW and beyond via the Independent Living Centre NSW @Magic website.

At the Independent Living Centre NSW we hope to assist people with complex communication needs connect effectively to the world using telecommunications, increasing independence and quality of life.


Originally posted on Telstra Exchange December 9, 2013