A spotlight will be shown on the ‘hidden’ disability affecting 1.2 million Australians during Speech Pathology Week.
Running from 25-31 August, the theme of this year, Communicating with Confidence will draw attention to people living with a communication disability, which can impact relationships, employment, education and social inclusion.
Acting National President at Speech Pathology Australia, Belinda Hill, says successful communication is the key to quality of life across all ages.
“Communication disabilities are commonly misunderstood and misdiagnosed, often because they are invisible, unseen and out of sight,” she says.
“It’s not immediately clear speech pathology is an option when someone has difficulty comprehending information or getting their message across
Ms Hill is calling on the community to understand that effective communication helps to improve every aspect of a person’s life.
“We take for granted the everyday activities that other people just simply cannot do,” Ms Hill says.
“Whether it’s ordering a coffee at the local café, maintaining friendships, getting a job or navigating public transport.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 38 percent of people with a communication disability are employed, compared to 80 percent of those who aren’t, and almost half of people with a communication disability report experiencing barriers when it comes to self-care.
The week also highlights the important role speech pathology plays in improving lives by ensuring people with a communication disability can communicate with confidence.
Ms Hill explains, “It’s clear more needs to be done to support people with communication disabilities.
“Just as ramps have become more embedded in good design for those with physical disabilities, we must consider how to do the same for communication,” Ms Hill says.
“Everyone can take action and it starts with being more aware and empathetic.”
Speech Pathology Australia’s tips to aid communication include using simple language, giving the person extra time to respond, using pictures and writing, or sign, gesture and symbols if needed.
For organisations, Speech Pathology Australia recommends using clear signage with symbols as well as words, providing information in different formats such as audio or written, using plain English and training staff in communication impairments and strategies.
“Making an effort to improve our interactions benefits not only those with communication disabilities, but also the people they are trying to communicate with.” Ms Hill explains.
More information on communication disabilities and Speech Pathology Week is available on Speech Pathology Australia’s website.