Monthly Archives: November 2019

Building communication access in the community: Lived experience makes a difference

Nateace has been working for several years with the Communication Access Network. She has been a member of the Southern Loddon Mallee Regional Communication Service Steering Group and is currently a Communication Access Symbol Assessor. From time to time, she also works with Southern Loddon Mallee Regional Communication Service to train community organisations in communication access.

As a person with lived experience of communication disability, her contribution to training is highly valued. Organisations willingly pay her to co-train with the Regional Communication Service (The Regional Communication Service is funded via the Victorian Government with no cost to community organisations).

Nateace oversees group work at a recent Central Goldfields Shire training in Maryborough

Meeting people with communication disabilities helps staff understand the barriers people with communication disabilities face. Staff also gain skills and confidence to communicate with everyone.

Workers try getting their message across without speech

Before their successful Communication Access Symbol assessment, Nateace was involved in training City of Greater Bendigo staff,

In their evaluation feedback, City of Greater Bendigo staff said they found all aspects of their two hour workshops useful:

role playing to simulate the experience of people who do not use speech to communicate

observing and role playing real work scenarios using communication aids and strategies

learning how to use the City of Greater Bendigo communication books.

And they especially highlighted the value of Nateace’s presence:

“It was great having Nateace there to ask her questions that you wouldn’t normally get the chance to ask”

“Great getting real life advice from a person who isn’t able to speak and listening to her life experiences”

“It was most useful having Nateace there as we didn’t have to make up scenarios we could practise with Nateace”

“Great having Nateace there to demonstrate.”

“I now know that it is okay to ask someone with a communication difficulty if there are other ways that we could communicate with one another, I know it isn’t offensive to ask.”

Meg Irwin Southern Loddon Mallee Regional Communication Service

More awards by Woodend Communication Access Group

The Woodend Communication Access Group have been out and about! This time they have made awards to two small businesses in Gisborne.

First they went to Mr and Mrs Shoe who provide podiatry services and also sell footwear.

The reasons the Woodend Communication Access Group finds Mr & Mrs Shoe communication friendly (from their certificate).

Then the Group visited Autocopy Printing.

The Woodend Communication Access Group with manager and staff of Autocopy Printing, holding their reasons for the award: Autocopy Printing staff talk directly to us, are friendly, listen to us, and are respectful, and we can find things.

Woodend Communication Access Group are keen to see and support communication access everywhere.

Meg Irwin, Southern Loddon Mallee Regional Communication Service

Communication Access at Brimbank Libraries

The North-West Regional Communication Service (NWRCS) recently worked with members of the Brimbank Disability Network to evaluate the communication accessibility of Brimbank libraries. St Albans, Keilor, Sunshine, Deer Park, and Sydenham libraries were all involved.

It’s great to have community members with complex communication needs so passionate about making community services accessible to everyone.

Megan providing feedback on her library audit experience

How did the project start?

The North West Regional Communication Service met with the Metro Access and Libraries Coordinator from Brimbank City Council. We spoke about Communication Access and the importance of having people with disabilities involved in the projects.

We decided to work with the Brimbank Disability Network to do an evaluation of the libraries and provide recommendations about what is needed to improve the experience of people with disabilities.

Each person involved had a meeting with the North West Regional Communication Service to talk about Communication Access and the project. Then each person went out to the libraries and used a ‘Library Audit Form’ or other tools to record their experience.


Community consultation meeting

Community consultation

After the the library audits were completed, a meeting was organised for everyone to share their experience at the libraries. The Libraries Coordinator from Brimbank City Council came to the meeting to listen to everyone’s experiences and suggestions.


There were many positives but also some areas for improvement.

The group spoke about:

  • How staff can have better interactions with people with disabilities
  • The use of communication boards at the library
  • Signage and wayfinding
  • Having written information available in Plan Language or Easy English
  • Physical accessibility

This has given Brimbank City Council lots of information about ways to improve customer experiences at Brimbank libraries.

Where to next?

The North West Regional Communication Service aims to continue to work with Brimbank libraries to create inclusive and accessible environments for everyone.

Stephanie Popovich, North-West Regional Communication Service

Everyone contributes

Steph Bryce North West Regional Communication Service

Take Pride in Your Hub – Yooralla Community Hub St Albans

Yooralla Community Hub in St Albans has been an active part of the North West Communication Coordinator Network for the last 3 years.

Communication Coordinator, Rui, recently introduced a ‘Chores Chart’ with the aim of increasing participation and engagement at the ‘Hub’ and providing opportunities for participants to learn new skills.

How was the Chores Chart made?

There is a lot of planning that goes into designing a communication aid!

Rui carefully thought about:

  • The aim of the chores chart
  • Who will use it
  • What it will look like
  • Where it will be displayed
  • How it will be implemented
  • Who will be responsible for updating it

Scope’s Non Electronic Communication Aid Service supported with the creation the ‘Chore’s Chart’.

How has the Chores Chart been implemented?

Rui used lots of different strategies to make sure that everyone at the Hub was on the same page and knew how to use the chores chart. Rui introduced the chores chart in customer meeting to explain how it works and find out how many participants were interested in being involved. Rui also presented the chores chart in staff meetings to explain what is expected of the staff. Each morning Rui showed staff and participants how to use the chores chart.

Have there been any barriers?

Rui reflected that some staff feel that it’s more efficient to do the task on their own. Rui is doing a great job of reminding staff that the purpose of the chores chart is to support participants develop new skills and create meaningful engagement. 

What have the outcomes been?

Yooralla Community Hub has noticed lots of positive changes since the chores chart has been introduced.

Staff have noticed a decrease in behaviours of concern and an increase in interaction and engagement.

Participants are also learning a variety of skills, for example:

  • Being an OH&S Officer
  • Updating the program board
  • Laundry
  • Recycling
  • Gardening
  • Being a Traffic Controller