The award recognises Denise’s extensive contribution and innovation to improving the lives of people with a disability – particularly those with little or no speech.

Dr Jennifer Fitzgerald, Scope CEO said, “Scope is thrilled that Denise has been recognised for her hard work and dedication. Her vision is for people with communication difficulties to be “heard” and have the same opportunities in life as everyone.”

“Our staff are our greatest assets and Denise is one of our key leaders. She has pioneered communication access and community inclusion for people with a disability.”

Denise is a speech pathologist by training, with over 32 years experience working with adults who have complex communication needs.

One of Denise’s key achievements in her career has been providing leadership and commitment to develop the Communication Access Symbol and accreditation.

Communication access aims to create a world where people who have communication difficulties are able to communicate successfully with everyone. Following the launch of Communication Access in 2011, more than 100 Victorian businesses and services have been awarded the Communication Access Symbol. These organisations are recognised for their role in creating a more inclusive environments for people with communication difficulties.

Another highlight is the development of the Non-Electronic Communication Aid Scheme (NECAS), an established funded service which provides communication aids to adults with communication difficulties.

Denise is a sought after speaker both in Australia and internationally. She was awarded an Ethel Temby scholarship to attend the International Society of Augmentative and Alternative Communication conference in Brazil, and presented as a keynote speaker at an international conference in Italy. Denise will be presenting a keynote address on Communication Access at the Communication Matters Conference in Leeds England in September.

Scope’s Balloon Football League was also a Victorian Disability Sector Awards finalist in the category of Excellence in Personal and Community Support.

Dr Fitzgerald commended the co-founders and leaders of Scope’s Balloon Football League. Balloon Football is a modified version of AFL that is played by over 200 people with a disability across Victoria.