WIMMERA Health Care Group hopes Speech Pathology Week will highlight the importance of building greater communication accessibility in the region.
The week started on Sunday and runs until Saturday, and has the theme Communication access is communication for all.
Speech Pathology Australia has called for greater action to ensure Australians with a communication disability are able to fully participate in community life, whether in social, educational or sporting areas.
Health care group chief speech pathologist Brooke Pay said communication access worked in the same way as mobility or wheelchair access, by removing barriers for people with communication disorders and providing extra support.
“Communication is a basic human right and Australia needs to do more to achieve communication access for those with a communication disability,” she said.
“Communication, by definition, involves at least two people. People with communication difficulties often experience communication barriers to their full participation in community life. This might lead to social and emotion isolation.
“When people are denied a voice for political reasons, we take action. When they are denied for accessibility reasons, it often goes unnoticed. Nonetheless, we all have a responsibility to uphold others’ right to communicate in daily life in order to enhance equality, justice and human dignity.”
Speech Pathology Australia estimates there are 1.2 million people in the country with a communication disability.
Ms Pay said those with a communication disability communicated with others using a variety of techniques, including word-based or picture-based communication boards or books, signs and gestures, and spelling.
She said technology played a vital role in keeping these people engaged with their family, friends and others in their community.
Technologies include electronic communication and speech generating devices, voice amplification, and computer access aids, including eye-gaze mouse control and head tracking devices.
Ms Pay said communities needed to be accessible to everyone, including people with communication difficulties, physical disabilities, reading difficulties, vision impairment, hearing impairment and intellectual disabilities.
“When we create communication accessible communities, everyone gets the message,” she said.