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