Border speech pathologists say more needs to be done to reduce the social and emotional isolation that comes with communication disabilities.
Three representatives of disability service provider Noah’s Ark set up a display at Albury’s Noreuil Park to increase community awareness of a disability not always visible.
Part of Speech Pathology Week, which ends on Saturday, the event provided Riverdeck Cafe with communication boards and demonstrated their use.
Noah’s Ark speech pathologist Teegan Gallagher said the pictures and words on the boards made an everyday interaction more accessible for people who communicate other than verbally.
“They’re able to independently order their coffee how they like it,” she said.
“People can just point, down to detail like the flavour of their milkshake or what type of coffee.”
An estimated 1.2 million Australians have some form of communication disability, with more than 81 per cent relying on aids or equipment for assistance.
Speech Pathology Australia national president Gaenor Dixon said communication was a basic human right, with the Speech Pathology Week theme being “communication access is communication for all”.
“Technology is improving communication channels, but we need to make sure the approach is multi-faceted,” she said.
“The best wheelchair in the world isn’t much use if the only entrance to a building is a steep flight of stairs.
“Just as ramps have become more embedded in good design, so we must consider how to do the same for communication.”
Mrs Gallagher said Thursday’s Albury event highlighted different types of communication devices, which some visitors to their stall hadn’t seen before.
“You think about everything that we talk in our day to day, we request and we negotiate and we answer,” she said.
“Anything like that can be really tricky, so the more accessible we make it, the better for everyone.”
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