Signs of success at silent morning tea

STAFF from the Department of Human Services Gippsland office in Sale held a silent morning tea at their Cunninghame St house on Wednesday to commemorate Augmentative and Alternative Communication Month.

The morning tea was an initiative of Scope, a not-for-profit organisation providing disability services throughout Victoria.

It aimed to raise awareness of the difficulties faced by people with limited or no speech by encouraging people to look for alternative methods of communication to get their messages across.

It focused on finding ways to make the world more inclusive of people who have difficulty speaking, and finding ways for people to work together to achieve understanding.

Staff had to point at pictures, people, objects and words, use facial expressions, gestures and body language, and what they knew of Key Word Sign (the use of manual signs and natural gesture to support communication) to interact with each other in the most basic of tasks sitting down for a biscuit and a cup of tea.

They even played a game of silent bingo.

House manager Lauren Bourke said it was a little like playing charades.

“Basically we thought we’d have a go at this to better understand the complex communication barriers that our residents face daily,” she said.

She hopes that this experience will help her, and other staff, to better understand residents and what they are saying, but also to understand the frustration that is often felt by those with disabilities when communication blocks are in place.

This is the first time that the Sale office has held a silent morning tea.

“I think it is a great initiative,” Ms Bourke said, and given its success she is considering holding a similar event next year.