Give and take: Making a difference and developing skills – Students in a Regional Communication Service

Mietta and Sarah, before becoming fully fledged speech pathologists, did a final placement with the North West Regional Communication Service in 2017.

They really enjoyed it and learned heaps.

And they contributed heaps as well!

In one project, they made choice boards and community request cards to use at McDonalds. These aids enabled people with communication disabilities to choose and order their food and drink themselves. This was a new accomplishment for several people!

The McDonalds staff still use the record sheet the students designed. The students have moved on, but the record consistently shows more people communicating more often and more independently at this McDonalds!

In another project, the students held a “signing lunch” for workers at a health care facility to promote Key Word Sign. They made resource materials and handouts and taught some signs to staff.

Click here to download the Key Word Sign Lunch Vocabulary sheet

Everyone was filmed signing “Give me a Home Among the Gum Trees”. They were learning and having fun.

Click here to download the Key Word Sign “Give me a home amongst the gum trees” sheet

As well as working on projects, the students regularly spent time at a day service for adults with disabilities.

Mietta and Sarah said;

“At first, trying to communicate with people with moderate to severe levels of communication disability was quite overwhelming.

But we quickly found we couldn’t wait to get there each day and work with these wonderful people in supporting their communication. We felt privileged to see that our work was really making a difference.

Being able to communicate is so central to the quality of life of all people.  For people with disabilities, effective communication skills and tools are essential to be included and to be able to participate in their community.”

The Service’s managers reported that they were delighted with the input the students were able to provide for a number of participants.

A father was very happy with the students’ contribution to one young woman’s  independence on the train.

Mietta and Sarah said that they would always remember and value the placement.

And they showed that, through a community capacity building approach, students can make a lasting and positive difference for people with communication disabilities and their communities.