A Sign of Things to Come for Joanne

Joanne DavisA resident of a supported living scheme in Cranborne, Dorset is helping pass on her knowledge of an approach that includes using objects, photos, pictures, symbols and signs to help people communicate with each other.

Joanne Davis is working with Dorset HealthCare’s Speech and Language Therapists to provide ‘Total Communication’ training for people who support adults with learning disabilities.

Total Communication is about building shared communication with people by using easier words, keeping sentences short, showing people what is meant, slowing down and giving people more time to understand and respond.

Joanne, who has a mild learning disability, has been supported to work as a Total Communication co-trainer by Town Farm Workshops in Sixpenny Handley, a day-centre project which provides work-related activities for people with disabilities.

Working as a co-trainer, Joanne has helped to highlight the communication difficulties experienced by adults with learning disabilities and show course participants how they can use key word signing to support people to understand and express themselves.

“I really enjoy getting out and about, I love signing and helping people and can’t wait until my next training session,” said Joanne.

Course participants have found Joanne’s input really useful. One person wrote it was, “Good having someone who uses signing every day to teach us. Jo’s signing was clear and easy to understand. Well done Jo and keep up the good work!”

In addition to the Total Communication courses hosted by Dorset County Council, Joanne has also trained her own carers at Cecil Court in Cranborne, run by care provider Regard.

“We’re all incredibly proud of her,” said Cecil Court team leader Mercedes Ramsden.

“What’s great about Joanne is she is able to teach students to ‘see’ things through her eyes, which is invaluable for professionals caring for people with communication disabilities.”

Using signs and symbols to communicate has entered mainstream popular culture in recent years with the BBC’s award-winning Something Special children’s programme featuring Mr Tumble.

The character, played by Justin Fletcher, is one of the most popular children’s programmes on television and uses a system of symbols and signs to support speech throughout each programme.

Run by Regard, Cecil Court provides opportunities for individuals with learning disabilities and mental health conditions to live in their own flats in a 24-hour supported environment. It is set in a rural village in a stunning countryside location, and provides a home for up to eight adults.

Find out more about Regard at www.regard.co.uk

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