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Building communication accessible school communities

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Communication is a joint endeavour dependent on the competencies of all partners. The vital importance of a supportive social network to enable individuals who use AAC to autonomously communicate has long been acknowledged. Individuals who use AAC need more than systems and devices, they need communities that are accessible to their use of AAC.
Recognising the need for change is an important first step towards leading shift in the culture and practices of any community. A shared understanding of the features of a communication accessible school is also necessary if we are to explain and inspire others towards implementing change in the way they interact with and teach students with complex communication needs.
This presentation will share results from group discussions during a workshop held at the AGOSCI Conference in Brisbane, Australia which sought to identify the features of communication accessible school communities.
Specific features identified by this group included the interaction patterns of staff and students, student access to their AAC systems at all times, sufficient time for communication using AAC, staff use of multiple communication modes to support student understanding and stimulate communication development and education to develop a shared understanding of communication autonomy, access and AAC. The development of a shared document to guide schools through a self-assessment of their communication accessibility was suggested as a potentially useful resource for future development.
This presentation aims to expand upon these initial discussions of the features of communication accessible school communities within an Australian context.

Author(s):

Gayle Porter    
Cerebral Palsy Education Centre
Australia

Haylee Parfett    
Cerebral Palsy Education Centre/Haylee Parfett
Australia

 

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