The City of Bunbury has recently installed communication boards in two major playgrounds to as a visual tool to help support people with a communication difficulty. The aim is to support people who communicate using ways other than spoken words and to build awareness and understanding about these other styles of communication. Some communicators will use these pictures to point and share understanding; some will use them to help with how easily we can understand their verbal speech.
The boards were an initiative proposed by local community members passionate about improving the lives of people with alternative communication needs and the City supported the initiative by trialling the boards in two locations – one at Koombana playground and the other at Big Swamp Playground.
The design and specifications were considered by the City’s Co-Design Access Panel (CoDAP) to ensure they were functional for people living with disability, their carers and able-bodied users.
The boards are a form of AAC – Alternative and Augmented Communication (AAC), which refers to any system, device or method that improves the ability of a person with a communication difficulty to communicate effectively.
Why do we use AAC?
Being able to communicate with each other is a human right. Those with difficulties communicating may not be able to gather information, build relationships, participate in employment and education opportunities and be safe in the community.
AAC is used as a tool to help understanding and is used by people to express what is going on in their minds. Using AAC creates an accessible and equal communication ‘playing field’ for those who can communication through speech and for those with challenges communicating through speech. It allows for needs, wants and opinions to be heard for all. New social connections and friendships can be built or maintained through AAC. Using AAC causes no harm and helps to reduce frustration. It’s also been proven to extend developmental skills that a person is already learning and using.
Who do we use it with?
Lots of people benefit from the use of AAC. This includes people who are not able to use speech to communicate effectively, those who have developmental delays or disorders and those who can communicate using speech but they are not understood by others or their speech is not functional.
AAC can be used as a temporary or alternative means of communication. It can also be used to add to a person’s speech or used until their speech develops. AAC is helpful if a person is experiencing difficulties communicating with others across one or many different situations.
This can be beneficial young children to adults with varying degrees of disabilities.
What are the forms of AAC?
AAC systems can include voice/sounds, facial expressions, body movements, natural gesture and signing systems (e.g., Auslan and Key Word Sign), object symbols, photos, written text and communication apps on electronic devices.
Contact the City of Bunbury’s Community Partnerships team on 9792 7000 if you have any questions.