What is it like to be a communication access assessor?

…and what does the Communication Access Symbol mean to them?

I want to challenge people to be betterCommunication Access Assessors are key members of the Communication Access Team that work with a business so that they can obtain the Communication Access Symbol.

In order to be a Communication Access Assessor, you must have a communication difficulty and independently use a communication aid.

The Communication Access Assessor is involved in either preparing a business, through co-presenting training to a business’ staff, or assessing a business to see if they meet the standards required to become accredited with the Communication Access Symbol.

Find out more about communication access here.

One of our veteran Communication Access Assessors is Greg*. Greg has cerebral palsy and a moderate speech difficulty. Greg’s speech can be difficult to understand, so he uses an electronic communication device to help get his message across.

I have had a communication impairment my whole life. It frustrates me that I am just like anybody else, but for so long I have felt different because of my difficulties communicating. Everybody is different, however for years I have had situations where customer service staff at businesses have ignored me, overlooked me and treated me differently. All just because I don’t speak the same as some other people do.

Greg has experienced discrimination in his lifetime when talking to staff at businesses, because of his speech difficulty.

I remember one time when I visited a store to make an enquiry, I was writing my question out using my electronic communication device. Another customer pushed me out of the way and proceeded to talk to the store clerk. The other customer completely disregarded me, and the store person didn’t ask me if I was ok, didn’t tell the pushy customer to wait their turn, they didn’t do anything.

Situations like this is exactly why I feel so strongly about my role as a Communication Access Assessor. I want to challenge people to be better. I hope that my contribution makes our communities more inclusive and more accessible for people with communication difficulties.

Another Communication Access Assessor is Nathan*, who has cerebral palsy and no speech. Nathan relies upon an electronic communication device to communicate.

I take my job as a communication access assessor very seriously and it is very important to me.

Nathan has had extensive experience presenting and training at seminars, lectures and conferences, providing a first-hand perspective of what it is like to live with a communication impairment and the importance of communication access in the community.

Nathan speaks about his passion of presenting to staff members.

Being a person with speech difficulties, I enjoy being able to open people’s minds, to make them aware, and help them develop positive and respectful attitudes. It is important to me, to show them, that we are the same as everybody else. The only difference is, that we have speech difficulties, and, that we need people, to be prepared to wait, and listen, and value, what we say.

People who have attended Nathan’s staff training often provide feedback about how valuable it was to be trained by a person with a communication difficulty themselves. For some people, it’s the first time that they have had the opportunity to communicate directly with a person with a disability.

Nathan enjoys breaking down the barriers between staff and customers with communication difficulties.

It is for this exact reason that I feel so strongly about the importance of a national communication access movement. My position as a communication access assessor isn’t just a paid position to add to my financial security. It is adding to my accessible future, and to the accessible futures of others like me. It is about promoting inclusion, and making a better tomorrow, for everyone.

To speak to a member of the Communication Access Team about your business or interest in communication access, contact circ@scopeaust.org.au

*Names have been changed in order to keep the identities private of some of the individuals mentioned throughout this blog.