Hi all, welcome to my first blog on my new website.

I’ve just returned from presenting a travel-training workshop for professionals who support people with disabilities living in group homes in Sydney. The participants asked lots of great questions.

Here’s one that was asked which seems a common problem:

Paul, 21 years, has recently learnt to walk to his local take-away shop but is having difficulty being understood when ordering his meal. He’s beginning to lose confidence and is starting to avoid talking to people.

  • This is a massive problem and stands in the way of Paul travelling independently to other destinations and functioning in the community successfully. There’s a couple of strategies that Paul’s support staff can teach him to help overcome this problem.
  • First, Paul can keep a cue-card in his wallet that he can hand to the shop assistant. The card might say “may I have a hamburger with tomatoes sauce please.” Overtime, Paul can add to his card collection and keep them handy in a ‘cue-card wallet’.
  • Second, Paul could learn to use a ‘speech generating device (SGD)’ also known as a ‘voice output communication aid (VOCA).’ These are portable electronic devices that assist the user to create a message and produce speech. There’s a variety of systems that range from simple to complex. Some of the systems use text while others use symbols to represent language. Paul could easily handle a simple SGD to initiate communication. These aids can be purchased online, at Independent Living Centres, or their equivalent.

I remember a client Mike using a SGD when ordering lunch in his local chicken take-away shop. He approached the shop assistant and pressed the button on his small, sleek looking device. Then, in a very clear voice, the request for his items was made. The shop assistant was so impressed, and so positive toward Mike giving him a massive dose of confidence. He quickly received his order and the shop assistant said “see you next time mate” and the client walked away smiling.

Feel free to ask as many questions as you like about travel-training or issues you might be facing. I’ll do my best to answer them for you.