Technology and You Forum

Eastern Regional Communication Service took part in a successful forum in Ringwood organised by Maroondah City Council “20 minute neighbourhoods” Project Officer, Fiona Burridge. The event, titled “Technology and You” explored the rapidly changing technological advances that are impacting on people with communication difficulties and other disabilities.

Maroondah City Council partnered with EACH, Eastern Regional Libraries, Sage Hotel, Uniting lifeAssist and Yooralla’s Regional Communication Service to run community information sessions on how technology can be useful for people with disabilities.

Topics included:

  • Communication and networking
  • Work and creativity
  • Home automation
  • Independent living

Special guest presenters, carer, Garry Hills along with his son, Christopher, talked about their experiences using technology, how it changed their lives and how it may work for others. Christopher has severe cerebral palsy with head control his only reliable movement. He uses head switches to communicate and to control everything in his environment. He runs a successful video editing business. Chris is an Apple ambassador and showed the new emojis that Apple has submitted to the emoji dictionary.

See Chris on YouTube:

Melinda Spencer (who cares for three teenage children on the autism spectrum) spoke about how technology helped them all, as a family, to become more independent and confident in everyday activities.

The Maroondah Council NDIS Transition Coordinator spoke about how technology fits into an NDIS plan, particularly to improve independent living skills and community access.

Also two sessions, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, offered opportunities for everyone to meet and speak with the speakers and community partners.

At the Communication Access Network table, we demonstrated apps for communication such as the  Key Word Sign and Tools2Talk apps, as well as other memory and organisation supports. There was also information on the Communication Access Symbol and how organisations can work towards it. More than 40 people spent time at the CAN table discussing apps, trying them on the 3 ipads, and asking about community resources for people with communication needs.

The afternoon session was booked out with 100 participants and the evening attracted about 80.

Bronwen Jones

Eastern Regional Communication Service (Yooralla)