The City of Greater Bendigo Service Desks Communication Access Symbol assessment is probably happening right now! Good luck everybody!
The City of Greater Bendigo has a population of more than 110,000 people. A few years ago, it identified communication access as an important part of its Community Access and Inclusion Plan. It requested support from the Southern Loddon Mallee Regional Communication Service.
Initial planning and training took place with the Manager of Customer Support and some selected “champions” working on the City of Greater Bendigo Service Desks.
Other Managers were informed and consulted about City of Greater Bendigo’s actions to achieve communication access.
The Mayor and Councillors and the Disability Inclusion Reference Committee were informed and reviewed the communication aids. The website was reviewed and changed.
By the start of 2019 City of Greater Bendigo service desks in three locations felt nearly ready for assessment.
In the first half of the year, the Regional Communication Service and City of Greater Bendigo staff worked hard to realise their goal to be awarded the Communication Access Symbol at the three main Service hubs in Bendigo and Heathcote.
Early in the year the Regional Communication Service observed and reported to City of Greater Bendigo managers on communication accessibility at the Service Desks. This led to some meetings with managers, to review results and plan responses.
The Regional Communication Service worked closely with the Customers Support Manager to make sure commercial picture communication symbols were properly acknowledged, to create explanatory material for the public and staff, and to organise staff training, including pre training questionnaires and tasks, pre and post training evaluations, scenarios for inclusion in training, and payment for the co trainer, who was a Communication Access Assessor and an Augmentative and Alternative Communication user.
The Regional Communication Service planned the training with the Communication Access Assessor. Four two hour trainings were delivered so that all staff at Bendigo and Heathcote Service Desks could attend.
Evaluations indicated that the training was highly valued overall. Participating in scenarios and roles plays, learning to use communication aids, learning how to interact with people with communication disabilities, and being able to ask a person with communication disability questions were all repeatedly commended. Everyone reported that they would recommend the training to others.
After City of Greater Bendigo receives its award, the Regional Communication Service will continue to support the sustainability of communication access. For example:
- There is an identified champion who will review important elements of communication access provided by the Regional Communication Service regularly.
- Links to CAN videos have been provided to enable new staff to understand communication access and old staff to refresh their knowledge.
- There will be further liaison with City of Greater Bendigo Education staff who attended the training to ensure continued staff support.
- The Regional Communication Service is involving other local organisations who can help resource the City of Greater Bendigo in communication access.
We hope more City of Greater Bendigo services will be developing their communication access.
Now another local government area has approached the Regional Communication Service for communication support, after seeing what the City of Greater Bendigo has done.
Meg Irwin, Southern Loddon Mallee Regional Communication Service