This year, Speech Pathology Week runs from 20 August to 26 August.
It seeks to promote the speech pathology profession and the work done by speech pathologists with the more than one million Australians who have a communication or swallowing disorder that impacts on their daily life.
The theme for Speech Pathology Week 2017 is ‘Communication access: Everyone gets the message!’. This theme reinforces the important role that speech pathologists play in the lives of Australians with speech and swallowing difficulties.
What is communication access?
It’s when everyone can get their message across.
Communication access is about creating a world where people with communication difficulties can communicate successfully with everyone – a world where everyone gets the message.
Communication by definition involves at least two people. People with communication difficulties often experience communication barriers to their full participation in community life.
People with communication difficulties may communicate with others using a variety of means, including electronic speech devices, word-based or picture-based communication boards or books, sign and gesture, and spelling.
Like mobility access, communication access involves the provision of community supports and strategies for people with a communication disability to participate fully in social, educational, economic, sporting, and community life. This involves greater awareness and understanding of communication disability within our community, and for all of us to learn how to interact with people with communication disability.
Speech Pathology Australia estimates that over 1.1 million Australians – around five per cent of the Australian population – have a communication disorder.
Our communities need to be accessible for everyone, including people with communication difficulties, physical disabilities, reading difficulties, vision impairment, hearing impairment and intellectual disability. Building communication accessibility will ensure everyone is treated with dignity and respect. When we create communication-accessible communities, everyone gets the message.
Tips for successful communication*
- Always treat the person with the communication disability with dignity and respect
- Be welcoming and friendly
- Understand there are many ways to communicate
- Ask the person with the disability what will help with communication
- Avoid loud locations, find a quiet place
- Listen carefully
- When you don’t understand, let them know you are having difficulty understanding
- If you think the person has not understood, repeat what you have said or say it a different way
- Try asking the person yes or no questions if you are having difficulty understanding them
- Ask the person to repeat or try another approach if you don’t understand
- To make sure you are understood, check with the person that you have understood them correctly
- If you ask a question, wait for the person to reply
- Allow the person time to respond, so always be patient
- Speak directly to the person and make eye contact (though be mindful that there are some people who may not want you to look at them, e.g. some people with autism spectrum disorder)
- Speak normally – there is no need for you to raise your voice or slow your speech.
What is a speech pathologist?
Speech pathologists study, diagnose and treat communication disorders, including difficulties with speech, language, reading and writing, stuttering and voice. People who experience difficulties swallowing food and drinking safely can also be helped by a speech pathologist.
Do you need to make an appointment for you or a family member?
Our on-site speech pathologist at PVH Medical Pascoe Vale is Naomi DeNicolo. She’s a member of Speech Pathology Australia and is a Certified Practising Speech Pathologist with over 18 years’ experience.
To make an appointment with Naomi, call 9304 0500 or download the Appointuit App on your smartphone.
*Source: Adapted from SCOPE, Communication for all booklet, www.scopeaust.org.au
Note: This information is of a general nature only and should not be substituted for medical advice. It does not replace consultations with qualified healthcare professionals to meet your individual medical needs.