North West Regional Communication Services’s Steph Bryce decided to take a three day challenge of communicating without speech.
It was a way to raise awareness among her colleagues at IPC Health. It also gave her a chance to partially “walk in the shoes” of people with communication disabilities.
Steph reflected on some things she noticed…
It helped to have an introduction card.
It explained how she was communicating and why. It provided the context for communication partners. Then they made more time to communicate.
It was natural to use many methods to communicate.
Steph found that she pointed to objects, typed out words, used facial expression and gesture – often all in the same sentence!
At home, communication methods were different – and it was easier.
Steph used a ‘text to speech’ app on her iPad to type out messages. She found she used the iPad much less at home. There, she relied on gesture, facial expression and yes/no questions. It was quicker and required less effort.
There were a number of things to consider with communication technology.
Steph tried a few different text to speech apps and found apps with better predictive text easier to use.
She was speaking with an English accent (which did not suit her!) because the easiest app had no alternative voice options.
She used an external speaker. The volume on the iPad was not sufficient for noisy environments or large groups.
She had to make sure that the iPad was charged at every opportunity. And she had to remember to take it everywhere.
Steph’s colleagues learnt a bit about communication and alternatives to speech. They are looking forward to working with the Regional Communication Service to improve communication access at IPC Health.