June 2012 - Volume 28, Issue 1
As human beings we are meant to communicate at a very high level both orally and written. For some crazy reason, Fiona chose a career in law and policy, which requires an even higher level of communication than most other careers!
Fiona is the Policy Officer at the Australian Centre for Disability Law. While communication devices have indeed helped her participate in the workforce and in the community, she feels she needs to be constantly on the lookout for the latest technology because communication devices are inevitably going to be slower than natural speech. She found that she needs to upgrade her communication technology as often as she upgrades my power chair.
A universal symbol so Everyone can get their message across.
Communication is a basic human right. Human rights have become the platform for disability policy, both nationally and internationally, through the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), to which Australia is a signatory.
The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA) makes it unlawful in Australia to discriminate on the basis of disability. One of the key objects of the Disability Discrimination Act is:
‘To promote recognition and acceptance within the community of the principle that persons with disability have the same fundamental rights as the rest of the community and should have equal opportunity to participate in community life’
Participation and social inclusion are the outcomes of having these fundamental rights. In order to achieve this, a number of access barriers within society need to be overcome. These may be physical, in terms of the built environment and transportation (Bowe 1978, cited in Owens 2009) and way-finding, in terms of signage and movement within and around a setting.
In 2008-2010, the Communication Resource Centre led a project to identify a symbol for communication access through a state-wide consultative process which followed the Australian Standard AS 2342-1992.
Since the first release of iPhones in 2007 and iPads in April 2010, these platforms have changed the assistive technology world for individuals with disabilities. There has been an explosion of applications for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and education. Additionally, there are many applications (apps) to enhance skills and independence for everyday living and for people with acquired disabilities and health conditions as people age. This article provides an introduction to iTechnology and highlights some apps for communication and everyday living.
Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPads run on an iOS operating system. This was originally developed as the mobile operating system for the iPhone and has been extended to other devices including iPod Touch and iPads. These devices operate in a more intuitive way and have built in accessibility features with powerful universal design elements. iPads have better battery life than previous computer tablets and they are very light and portable. iPads are designed to enable
access to a range of audio visual media, including books, movies, music, photos, games, internet and a huge range of applications, known as apps. Some apps are adapted versions of software available on PC’s and Apple Computers; many others are specifically designed for this new platform.
Project Team Members:
1) Leanne Togher, Speech Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney
2) Emma Power, Speech Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney
3) Skye McDonald, School of Psychology, University of New South Wales
4) Robin Tate, Rehabilitation Studies Unit, Northern Clinical School, Falculty of Medicine, University of Sydney | Royal Rehabilitation Centre, Sydney
5) Rachel Rietdijk, Speech Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney | Brain Injuiry Unit, Liverpool Health Service, Sydney
Communication is a complex, dynamic process that we do without even thinking about most of the time. However, when one of the participants in the conversation has a problem all the intricacies of communication suddenly come into sharp relief. Communication disabilities arise from many underlying causes including developmental origins or from an acquired injury to the brain, such as stroke or traumatic brain injury.
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause social communication breakdown that affects the person with TBI and the people they talk to. Difficult conversations cause frustration, strained relationships and loss of employment and represent a major source of stress for people caring for people with TBI.
The Project team has found some promising early results indicating that we can train people with TBI to have better social interactions (McDonald et al., 2008). However, until now, urgently required training programs to provide conversation-based communication strategies for communication partners of people with TBI have been non-existent.
In this article, we introduce why we think a partner-centered approach to communication training is needed and briefly describe our 10 week program. We then outline our recent study, which evaluated this training program. We also provide general communication strategies that can be the basis for more enjoyable and effective conversations, as well as resources for families and clinicians.
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