Tag Archives: accessible information

Ordering Lunch – From “potluck” to “easy” with Visual Menus

Gippsland Regional Communication Service is working with Cells Café in Bairnsdale to increase communication access.

Cells Café is a social enterprise creating employment opportunities for people with disabilities in East Gippsland.

The café has a strong commitment to everyone being able to participate. It is working towards being awarded the Communication Access Symbol.

As part of the process, communication access at the Café was informally assessed by Frank Powell, a local man with a disability. Frank has completed training in communication access.

During Cells Café’s communication access journey, there have been many positive changes. Mel Newcomen (Gippsland Regional Communication Service) and Frank reflected on what has happened so far.

Mel Newcomen (Gippsland Regional Communication Service, Scope) and Frank Powell with the visual menu

Frank thinks the visual menu has made the most difference. Frank said that he could only make “potluck” orders the first time he visited, because the menu was only in written format.


The original menu

He suggested the menu could include photos of the food, so more people could order independently.

The Café added photos of the food with the prices. They also changed the format from trifold to A4 pages, which is more accessible for people with low literacy and for people who use one hand to open the menu.

The improved accessible menu

When Frank returned to the Café after the changes had been made, he found “they have done a good job.” Mel asked if Frank could order what he wanted this time. “Of course I could, easy”, Frank said, smiling.

Visual menus are a small change that have a large impact on communication access. More people can order the food they want and participate in our community.

Visual menus can make the  difference between getting a “potluck” lunch to choice being “easy”.


Mel Newcomen, Speech Pathologist, Gippsland Regional Communication Service, Scope

Communication Access using eLearning is launched!

A big focus of the Regional Communication Services around the state has been Communication Access. Communication Access is about making our communities more accessible for people living with communication difficulties. The role of our service is to support businesses to become more Communication Accessible. This can involve staff training, developing communication boards, advice around signage, and support to develop written information in an accessible format (e.g., Easy English). Previously, we have trained staff at businesses face-to-face. A barrier identified by businesses with this method was being able to back-fill staff so they can attend training. With our very large geographical area, training dozens of staff from different businesses was difficult due to travel time.

In partnership with Carl Russel, a gentleman living with communication difficulties, we designed an eLearning Package to be piloted at a local council. This package essentially has the same content as the face-to-face training which covers communication strategies, other tips to make businesses more accessible, and Carl speaking about his experiences. Using iSpring, an add-on to PowerPoint, our face-to-face training was converted into presentation with voice recordings and video clips. The presentation was then published to a USB stick, mailed out along with instructions, and voila – staff can complete! The training takes around one hour and can be completed when this suits the business. We anticipate that eLearning will reduce issues around staff cover; and eliminate hours of travel meaning more people in our community can be trained.

Those who have completed the training so far have said that they really liked the eLearning format. Unfortunately, access to YouTube and Internet speed has been a barrier but we are working on having the training available offline.

This slide talks about communication strategies to use when speaking to a person with communication difficulties.

This slide talks about communication strategies to use when speaking to a person with communication difficulties.

This is a slide from the presentation. The link takes you to a YouTube clip of Carl telling his story.

This is a slide from the presentation. The link takes you to a YouTube clip of Carl telling his story.

By Karen Oswald

West Hume Regional Communication Service Speech Pathologist


Easy English Training launched in the West Loddon Mallee

1On the 18th of March this year, the West Loddon Mallee Regional Communication Service launched its first localised Easy English training module in Swan Hill. This was followed by another short session where participants could bring their practise documents to share with each other and problem solve together.

Due to the success of our first training session and high public interest, we held a second training session in Mildura on 20th May.

Participants of both sessions came from a wide variety of community organisations including the Local Councils, Private Health clinics, Community Legal Services, Community Support Services, Early Learning Centres, and more.

All reports from attendees were very positive. Participants reported gaining more awareness of the literacy skills of the general community and reported that the statistics were an “eye-opener.” Some also felt they gained an awareness of the fact that how their documents are currently written are “often not fit for the audience”, and that they need to make sure the message that is delivered is actually received.

The groups reported finding the training well balanced, and described it as an “enjoyable, interactive and practical workshop.” Some felt they had gained a skill that will help them to “better engage their clients”.

By the end of the session, some had set high goals for themselves when asked if there was anything they intend to do differently when they return to work as a result of the workshop:

“Re-designing Service Brochure within 2 months”.

“Update Client Services Handbook by June 30 2016”.

Very soon after the first training session in Swan Hill, Sharon and I received great examples of Easy English documents that attendees were working on and requests for pictures to add meaning to their documents. It’s very rewarding to know that the training has made a difference to how the participants intend to communicate with their audiences from now on.

The fact that our community is so willing to take on advice of a different way to convey their messages to the public, a format which looks so different to any they have used in the past, is very encouraging to us as Regional Communication Service practitioners.

Some participants even expressed interest in attending the Communication Inclusion Resource Centre’s two day intensive Easy English Writing Course. It’s reassuring, to know our community is so willing and committed to engaging our members who require accessible information in order to fully participate, and gives us proof of our continually developing “communication friendly” community.

Emma Douglass & Sharon Champion

WLC RCS Speech Pathologists