For people who have little or no speech, accessing activities and services in the community can be a daunting task. Community Request Cards can help with this process as they are designed to assist someone to participate more independently in community activities.
What is on a Community Request Card?
These cards have information written on them, primarily for the communication partner in the community, that outlines what the person with a communication difficulty needs.
The individual just needs to hand this card over as a way to get their message across. The cards can be useful in unlimited settings, they might ask for a train ticket to Flinders Street; a hot chocolate with marshmallows; a concession movie ticket or even assistance for specific support. The cards may also have introductory information about the person’s communication difficulty and how best to successfully communicate with them.
Community Request Cards in Action
Sandra from Loddon Mallee recently attended a You CAN Communicate Day in Bendigo, where she developed an individualised set of community request cards. As Jeanette, her direct support worker reports, Sandra found that community request cards really can assist you to be more independent and are an efficient way of getting your message across with people who are unfamiliar with you.
“Sandra showed very little interest in using non-electronic communication aids prior to the You CAN Communicate Day in Bendigo. On that day like everyone Sandra made herself a “How I Communicate” card, as well as the community request cards. Since then, Sandra takes her cards which we have put on a lanyard everywhere, she takes them to her day placement, she has worn them on the train, travelling to Bendigo to see her Mum, and she walked down to Woodend independently, to buy herself some winter sheets from Target.
Her confidence has increased, and the feeling of achievement when she shows her cards to members of the public and how positively they then respond to her is evident. All staff are saying that they have never seen Sandra so happy, she is much more confident in the way that she approaches and responds to people, and I can only see things getting better and better for her from here on in.”
Other people have reported a preference for using the cards over other ways of communicating as they are fast and efficient with people who don’t know you well, help to reduce the frustration of not being able to get your message across, and encourage others to chat with you, knowing how you like to communicate. In the current days of whiz bang technology and mobile devices, sometimes the low tech printed options provide easy access to easy communication.
Who is eligible to access Community Request Cards?
All adults in Victoria with communication difficulties are eligible to receive funding to access community request cards and many more communication aids, through NECAS. The Non-electronic Communication Aid Service (NECAS) provides individualised communication aids for adults with communication difficulties in Victoria. Communication aids provided by NECAS include boards, books and cards that have a series of pictures, letters, words or phrases printed on them. They can help people get their message across when they find it difficult to communicate.
For more information about NECAS and how you can access this funding for an individualised communication aid that meets your needs, see www.scopeaust.org.au/necas/