Monthly Archives: April 2017

What is Key Word Sign?

Key Word Sign is a method of using sign and natural gesture in conjunction with speech. It is used with people who can hear but have little or no speech. Key Word Sign uses Auslan signs.

Why is Key Word Sign used?

Key Word Sign is useful for toddlers, pre-school children, school-aged children and adults with little or no speech. Key Word Sign may be used for a number of reasons:

  • Until speech develops – the person is able to communicate through signing whilst speech and language skills continue to develop;
  • As a supplement to speech – where the person’s speech is difficult to understand, the use of sign and gesture can assist;
  • As an alternative to speech – signing is an effective means of communication in the absence of speech;
  • As a temporary means of communication – for short-term use with familiar communication partners;
  • As a means to help comprehension –use of key word sign to help others understand and learn. Model the use of sign.

Who does Key Word Sign Australia work with?

Key Word Sign Australia works with state-based committees in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. Key Word Sign state committees offer training and support to the communication partners of children and adults with little or no speech. Demographic studies show that there are between 1 in 500 and 1 in a 1000 people who have significant communication difficulties i.e. cannot use speech as their only means of communication.

This may be due to:

  • Developmental disabilities such as Down Syndrome, Autism or Cerebral Palsy
  • Acquired disabilities such as Acquired Brain Injury, Stroke
  • Progressive Disabilities such as Motor Neurone Disease, Parkinson’s Disease

These children and adults rely on other means of communication to replace or augment their speech. This is known as (Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) or multi-modal communication. The options available for support includes the use of communication aids both electronic and non-electronic or unaided options eg. sign and natural gesture.

Their communication partners include:

  • Parents & carers
  • Kindergarten and Childcare staff
  • Teachers & Education Assistants
  • Supported employment staff
  • Speech Pathologists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists
  • Disability Support Workers

Key Word Sign Australia has been actively involved in training, information sharing and developing resources to support the communication partners of people with little or no speech.

Resources available:

  • Key Word Sign Australia App                                   bit.ly/kwsapp
  • Getting Started with Key Word Sign book             bit.ly/gettingstartedkws
  • Let’s Play with Sign book                                          bit.ly/Letsplaywithsign
  • The Key Word Sign AFL Footy book                        bit.ly/kwsfooty
  • Key Word Sign Posters – Full Set                             bit.ly/kwspostersfull
  • Key Word Sign Posters – Set of Five Posters         bit.ly/kwsPosters5
  • Key Word Sign Posters – Single Poster                  bit.ly/kswposter1
  • Key Word Sign Australia (Scope)
    The research evidence base for
    Key Word Sign Webinar(2016)                               bit.ly/KWSWeb1

 

To find out more about Key Word Sign click here.

By Karen Bloomberg

Bridging The Gap

“What to do after 3 days of communication coordination training”

We felt this was a question that most of us ask after attending any training session…… “Okay, I have learned some new information, but how do I put it into action?

With this in mind we planned a 4th day as a Resource Creation Day. The primary aim of the day was to provide an opportunity for Communication Coordinators to come together to create resources to support communication in their workplace.

The workshop format was informal and allowed everyone to raise an idea, brainstorm the concept using everyone’s knowledge and experience, and then to create it. The simple concept of creating resources seems to be a major barrier to communication coordinators fulfilling their role back in the workplace. Often they feel unsure about where to start or fearing that what they create will not work.

The ability to meet with others who have completed the training and identify that the feeling of potential failure is quite common, reassured most that ‘having a go’ was the essential first step. For some, the day provided an opportunity to discuss their ideas before taking the plunge to put it together for implementation.

Having staff on board and “on the same page”, was identified as one of the key indicators of whether communication strategies would be successful. It was also identified that this is difficult to attain at times. To attend a training session and then go back to the workplace with knowledge and a concept is very different to going back to the workplace with knowledge and a physical object/support. It is easier to have staff on the same page when they can see what the strategy is and implementation can begin immediately

The rural context means the tyranny of distance reduces the opportunities for staff from a variety of settings to come together and share their knowledge and experiences. This 4th day enabled networking across day services and accommodation services in the development of resources.

So what did we make?

  • Weekly timetables for whole of service
  • Individual visual schedules
  • Writing of a social story
  • Individual annual planner
  • Development of communication profiles
  • Developing scripts for client interactions
  • Activity choice board

 

 

 

 


Would we do it again?

Feedback from participants indicate that we have helped to bridge the gap between learning a new skill and implementing that skill. Of the 14 participants, all of them have requested another opportunity to come together and make re- sources with guidance and a collective brain. Comments included:

“Extremely useful, I went away achieving 3 plans for communication.” “Discussing and sharing ideas as a team and working together was the most useful.”

“I would like to see this happen every 3-6 months as it will open up new doors for better communication between staff and residents.”

So, yes, we will be offering this day again over the coming year as a strategy to support our Communication Coordinators in their day to day work.

By Emma Douglas & Sharon Champion