Boards at the Bar – West Loddon Mallee Regional Communication service’s Emma Douglass

Interviewed by Alyce Jenkins

Communication access helps everyone participate in the community, including enjoying a drink or a meal at a restaurant.

During Speech Pathology Week at the end of August, the Christie Centre, supported by the Regional Communication Service, in Mildura worked together with their local community to raise awareness for communication access.

Community members were invited to “order silently” at lunch or dinner time at four popular venues; Gateway Tavern, The Corporate Moose, Cider Tree, and the RSL.

They ordered without speaking.

Instead, everyone used picture boards, alphabet boards or key word sign and gesture to get their message across, leading to some amusing interactions.

At first, some patrons were unwilling. But venue staff and people from the Christie Centre showed everyone how it was done. People who ordered silently got discounts or vouchers for their drinks and meals too.

Before long, most patrons were joining in. Everyone quickly realised how hard it is to communicate without speaking. They found communication boards and some basic key word sign can work.

As well, everyone understood more about communications aids, and how useful they can be for people with communication difficulties to get their message across.

Nathan, the bar tender at The Corporate Moose, said the communication boards will be useful in the future. He will be using them when it gets too loud inside or when backpackers don’t speak English!