Insights from the Inclusive Communication Essex Sharing Day
Updated: Mar 30
After a 2 year hiatus, we were glad to be back to take part in the Inclusive Communication Essex (ICE) Sharing Day. The workshops offered practical and thoughtful feedback to services working in Essex. Unsurprisingly, the theme of many of the workshops related to how the pandemic and the periods of isolation and staying at home impacted people with communication disabilities. The key things we heard were:
Being at home was great for some, but not for all. For some people not having a schedule of day centre visits or organised activities provided the opportunity to try new things, communicate in different ways (using technology, art) and avoid potentially stressful/tiring activities. However, some people really struggled without the routine they had been used to. It also often reduced the opportunities for social interaction with family and friends. While it sounds like Essex County Council were quickly able to roll out ways for online communication for families, it did mean that some people were not able to visit family members as they would have liked.
Some people needed their AAC devices less For some, being at home with family meant that they could make themselves understood or needed to use their AAC tech less often. In addition, because communication went online for some social events and for meetings with professionals, using mainstream texting tools and other tech meant that a dedicated AAC device or app wasn't needed for those conversations.
More people became aware of their hearing difficulties The presentation from an audiologist, Clare Benton, highlighted that some people identified that they had hearing difficulties when they noticed how much they had relied on lip-reading, and how difficult mask-wearing made communication.
The day was also a reminder of how great the ICE service is. ICE run training days, write up easy read materials and have a great loan library full of useful kit to support inclusive communication. More about them here: https://www.essexice.co.uk/about-us/