Goodbye from the 2016/2017 Committee!

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The targets we set ourselves for 2016/2017 and how we have met them:

  • Instagram followers increased from 67 to 176 (annual target = 80)
  • Facebook members increased from 218 to 310 (annual target = 261)
  • Twitter followers increased from 335 to 507 (annual target = 402)

What a year it has been!

We are proud to say that in one year we have raised £949.24 for a variety of different causes: the Motor Neurone Disease Association, British Sign Language courses for students, Headway, The Stroke Association and Downright Excellent. This has been in many different forms, from bake sales to documentary showings and a Christmas concert with a great turn out from staff, students and the community.

We have also been proactive in raising awareness of various speech, language communication and swallowing needs and the role of the SLT. We held Express BSL lessons to raise awareness of the Deaf community, we held online campaigns to encourage people to discuss important themes in Speech and Language Therapy, we held a dysphagia awareness event focussing on patient experience, and we had an Augmentative, Alternative Communication treasure hunt in the community, which encouraged passer-by’s to stop and ask questions. Our MND documentary screening of “Filming My Father: In Life and Death” was a particularly successful event that sold 44 tickets to a wide variety of people who had the unique opportunity to discuss their immediate thoughts, feelings and questions about the battle with MND with the son of the man in the documentary. The £200 we raised from this event was enough to fund an MND researcher for just over a day, or to fund laboratory equipment for 4 day’s vital research into finding out the causes of MND.

Here are some final words from each member of the 2016/2017 committee:

President – Ali Boston

thumb_img_2960_1024As budding speech and language therapists, we’re taught to be reflective practitioners. This means both celebrating the things that go well, and challenging ourselves to think about how we can do things better. Looking back on the past year of the UCL Giving Voice society, I feel that we have lots to celebrate. We reached more people than ever before with the Giving Voice message through social media, raised nearly £1000 for a range of charities, and provided a platform for people with speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties to be heard.

Personally, this year has been both challenging and inspiring. It has been an absolute privilege to work with this committee – a group of people putting their exceptional skills to whatever task at hand with passion and dedication. It is rare to find such a group that will think creatively, will set high expectations for themselves, will take initiative to overcome challenges, and will roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty (sometime literally) with no complaints. I will always remember the buzz of excitement surrounding each event or campaign we held this year, and the sense of accomplishment when each was over and we knew we’d done our part to make a difference.  

A particular highlight for me was partnering with the UCL Communication Clinic to support them at the Bloomsbury Festival, where our brave volunteers engaged with over 150 members of the public to raise awareness about the challenges of living with aphasia and the role of SLTs in helping people to overcome those challenges.

Thank you to all our society members this year for doing your part; to all the people who contributed to running events; to those who attended/gave money to/read about our activities; to Giving Voice central for all their support; and especially to this year’s committee.  I look forward to seeing what the UCL Giving Voice society gets up to in future!

Vice President – Sophie Trevis-Smith

aacBeing part of the Giving Voice Committee has been both challenging and rewarding in equal measures! Each event has brought about it’s own unique hurdles! However, I have been continually amazed at how the committee has been able to pull together to overcome these! Not only that, but I have been overwhelmed by the fantastic support we have received from our society’s members and from the general public! Thank you to everyone who has supported the society this year!

A highlight (although there were many for me!) was hosting the Taster Evening in October. I loved this event because we were able to share information about Speech, Language and Communication Needs with a diverse range of students from a variety of academic backgrounds. This was made especially enjoyable due to the enthusiasm of the attendees! Good luck to the new committee- I know you’ll do an amazing job!

Treasurer – James Eastman

dsc_0589Being part of the Giving Voice Committee this year has, although difficult at times, been a lot of fun! It’s been great to work alongside so many talented people who have worked so hard to make each event such a success. Each event has thrown different challenges and obstacles at us, but each time it’s been a group effort to get through everything and put on events which (we hope!) everyone that has attended has enjoyed and taken something from. It’s been a great sideline from all the work and stressful times of the course and each time an event has come around it’s been a fantastic reminder of why we put ourselves forward!

A particular highlight of the year for me was helping to organise and run the Christmas Carol Concert alongside Abbi. This event posed particular challenges right up to the day it took place, but with everyone’s help we managed to put on a really fun and enjoyable event. I’ve never organised something like that before, but the feedback we got from everyone who came and the from the choirs who took part, definitely made it all worth it! Thank you to everyone who came to all the events, and to the committee for people such a great group to work with!!

Social Secretary – Mahie Sumathipala

SwallowAware-10Being a part of the Giving Voice Committee this year was such an incredible experience. Working with a team of individuals who are whole heartedly dedicated to this profession made it all the more enjoyable. The whole team worked tirelessly over the last year to host a range of unique and educational events and it has been such a pleasure to be a part of introducing other individuals to the wonderful world of Speech and Language Therapy. We have had such huge support from lots of people, but we have been especially lucky to have met individuals who were willing to get involved with Giving Voice events and share their personal stories about living with or knowing someone with speech, communication and swallowing difficulties.

One of my favourite events was the Dysphagia awareness event as this is an area that not a lot of people know that SLTs are involved with. I wish the next committee the very best of luck and to continue raising awareness about speech, language, communication and swallowing difficulties. Most importantly, I hope GV continues to educate and break down societal boundaries that individuals living with these difficulties face in day to day life.

Social Secretary – Abbi Songhurst

dsc_0484It has been an absolute blast working with this group of lovely people this year as part of the GV society. I have thoroughly enjoyed raising awareness of the profession and conditions that can cause speech, language communication or swallowing needs.

A particular highlight for me was coordinating a choir of children from the charity Downright Excellent, who came to sing and sign at our Christmas concert. It was amazing to see their confidence on stage and to see the public celebrating the success of these children. I hope that this is something future societies continue as it was such a success for the audience, the children and their families. I am so excited to see what the next committee have in store and wish you every success!

Social Secretary – Bridget Yu

SwallowAware-18It has been an amazing experience working with these lovely people. By being part of the GV committee, not only have I learnt a lot more on communication and swallowing difficulties, most importantly I have enjoyed myself in all the activities.

My favourite one was the swallowing awareness event in March. It was very satisfying to see that those who came were genuinely interested and have gained a lot through the event. A huge thank you to everyone who has helped or come to any of our events. Great work team!!

Publicity Officer – Chloe Thomson

word-findingI am really glad that I got to be a part of this year’s Giving Voice Committee and that I was able to support the events and campaigns run by the society. Pushing forward GV’s agenda, raising awareness of Speech Therapy, as well as giving a voice to people with speech, language, communication and swallowing needs has been so rewarding.

A highlight for me was running an introductory event last year to show people who may never have had any contact with Giving Voice what is really all about! It was amazing to see how much hard work the committee put in, as well as how interested people were in Giving Voice’s message.

Overall, I have loved having the opportunity to raise awareness of a field of work so close to my heart. The whole community surrounding and supporting people with speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) and swallowing difficulties are a wonderfully passionate bunch – but most of all I have enjoyed seeing those people with SLCN or swallowing difficulties have the opportunity to advocate and represent themselves. I look forward to carrying on working in this field and wish the best of luck to the new committee!

Publicity Officer –  Reanne Coleman

screenshot-4I’m so pleased that I decided to run for one of the Publicity Officer positions this year. Not only has it been good to focus on something apart from our deadlines, it’s been empowering and uplifting to be part of a society who have worked so hard to promote the amazing work of Speech & Language Therapists and raise public awareness about speech, communication and swallowing difficulties.

A highlight for me was the AAC Treasure Hunt that I co-ran with our President, Ali. It was probably one of the most complicated events that I’ve ever had to organise but it was also great fun and it proved to be a success! Most importantly, we were able to be outreaching and promote the work of SLTs to members of the public who were simply curious to find out why we were standing at random landmarks around central London!

Overall, I found being a member of the committee a thoroughly enjoyable experience and I know this was only possible thanks to the fantastic group of people around me who all pitched in to help wherever they could to make every event work. I wish the new committee every success and look forward to seeing what you get up to on social media!

Communications Secretary – Hollie St John Wright

SwallowAware-18Being part of Giving Voice this year has been brilliant! Not only have I really enjoyed myself, but it’s been fun working so closely with my fellow committee members and actually feeling like we’re making a difference outside our little speechie bubble. It’s been so rewarding feeling like we’ve reached out to new people and sparked a genuine interest in communication and swallowing needs (particularly at our dysphagia event), and I’m really excited to follow the new committee and see where they will take Giving Voice next!

Personally, being part of Giving Voice this year has given me an extra reminder about why I’m doing what I’m doing: training to become a Speech and Language Therapist. For many of us on the MSc course, there have been some really difficult times with what feels like constant deadlines, but Giving Voice and all it stands for, and my lovely committee have kept my passion going! What a year it’s been!

Communications Secretary – Kim Talbot

img-20161026-wa0034Putting myself forward for the Giving Voice Committee was a step out of my comfort zone but I haven’t regretted a single moment! In fact, it’s made me more determined to get involved in ‘extracurricular activities’ in the future.

I’ve been very lucky to work alongside an amazing, supportive team of people who have such creative and innovative ideas. I’ve really enjoyed all the events we have run together to promote Speech and Language Therapy, as well as the clients we will work with in the future. I’ve particularly enjoyed being able to use my creative side to create all the posters for events and to write this blog! We have managed to raise nearly £1000 for a variety of charities and it’s amazing to consider what that money will go towards. 

A particular highlight for me was the Bake Sale I ran for the Stroke Association. I was overwhelmed by the support we had from everyone in Chandler House, and I never imagined it possible to raise over £200 from one day of cake selling!

As I start my career in Speech and Language Therapy, I aim to continue raising awareness of our profession and advocating for the clients we work with. Best of luck to the new committee!

Year A Representative – Liz Douglas

20170201_195352I have loved being in the committee this year. It has given me so many experiences to learn more about speech and language therapy, meet a variety of people and to help spread the word about speech and language therapy. 

The highlight for me would be meeting Frazer, whose father had motor neurone disease, and learning about the impact of language difficulties on a family and what they found supported them. I will bring the experiences and all that I have learnt into my future career.

Some feedback we have received from UCL staff:

“The enthusiasm, quality and breadth of engagement activities have been outstanding over the year. The Society has welcomed UCL students who are not studying SLT not only to events but also as members of the committee. The events have disseminated information within UCL but also fostered robust links with service users, charities (e.g. the MND Society) and members of the public (e.g. activities at the Bloomsbury Festival). As Head of Department, I offer sincere and deep thanks for all the Society has done this year to spread the word about speech, language and swallowing difficulties, the people who experience them and the importance of services for them.”

Rosemary Varley – Chair of Acquired Disorders of Language Communication UCL

“This year’s UCL Giving Voice committee have been a model of how to work collaboratively and promote enthusiasm and innovation.  They have organised a series of interesting events to promote awareness of speech and language difficulties.  These were well attended, not only by UCL speech and language therapy students but also by students on other courses and friends.  They have increased their social media presence in a remarkable way.  For example, they now have 491 followers on Twitter.”

Rachel Rees – Senior Teaching Fellow UCL

‘The UCL Giving Voice Society’ is now an established part of our community, reaching beyond SLT students and staff.  The committee has recognised the importance of social engagement. It has been a privilege to witness their enthusiasm and commitment to SLT and the shared understanding of people with communication and swallowing disabilities.’

Steven Bloch – Senior Lecturer UCL

“We are very proud of the continued success of the UCL Giving Voice Society, which has gone from strength to strength. The Committee continues to organise a range of interesting and varied activities that have been highly effective in raising the profile of speech, language, communication and swallowing needs both across the student body and also in the local community.  In addition, they have raised money for a number of charities working to support people with SLC and EDS needs.  The committee is a veritable model of teamworking and leadership and shows evidence of wholehearted commitment to the SLT profession.  I do not hesitate to recommend them.”

Carol Sattchett- Principal Teaching Fellow UCL

As you can see, we have all thoroughly enjoyed our time on the UCLU Giving Voice committee and wish the new committee luck in the coming year! Thank you again for all of your ongoing support.

twitterlogoUCLU Giving Voice Committee

Facebook: UCLU Giving Voice Society

Twitter: @GivingVoice_UCL

Instagram: uclugivingvoice

Email: ucl.givingvoice@gmail.com

 

Winner of the UCLU Giving Voice Raising Awareness Challenge!

Back in September, armed with our  ‘Challenge Bag’, the UCLU Giving Voice committee encouraged the society’s potential new members to take on various challenges to spread awareness of speech, language, communication and swallowing needs.

Some of the challenges included hosting a dinner party with a communication friendly menu, tweeting 3 messages raising awareness of speech, language and communication needs (SLCN), and holding a film night with a movie relating to speech and language therapy, for example The Diving Bell and The Butterfly.

Here is a video of Hollie Wright taking the challenge of videoing herself explaining how to make a sweet milky tea backwards to highlight the additional processing demands for those with SLCN.

I didn’t expect my challenge to be straightforward, but I certainly didn’t anticipate it would be this difficult. The thought of finding it that tough to communicate ALL the time is not a nice one – Hollie Wright

The prize for the winner of the challenges was a beautiful piece of art by Sue from Headway Cambridgeshire, who is living with a brain injury. Sue created her artwork using a Batik style of painting, which uses wax to prevent dye from penetrating the cloth, leaving “blank” areas in the dyed fabric.

And the winner was…. Fionn MacLauchlan! Fi took the challenge of raising awareness of dysphagia by eating a pureed diet for a day and documenting it on social media.

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It was actually really hard trying to plan the sorts of food I could eat and it affected my social plans for the day too. I had porridge, scrambled eggs and soup. It was really bland and I can’t imagine doing this everyday. Being on a puréed food diet would be a lot more difficult than you think, and would take a lot of creativity and effort to keep it interesting. – Fi MacLauchlan

Congratulations to Fi! And well done to everyone who took part. Speech, language, communication and swallowing needs are viewed as ‘hidden disabilities’, as they are often not visible or obvious to other people. For this reason, it is important that we raise awareness of these difficulties in any way we can. Social media is a powerful tool to enable us to share our experiences: together we can hopefully shed light on these ‘hidden disabilities’. If you see an interesting tweet, or an informative Facebook video about SLCN or dysphagia – SHARE SHARE SHARE! Let’s get the word out!

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UCL Giving Voice Committee

Facebook: UCLU Giving Voice Society

Twitter: @GivingVoice_UCL

Instagram: uclugivingvoice

Email: ucl.givingvoice@gmail.com

Merry Christmas from UCLU Giving Voice!

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Twas the 9th of December, and all through the cloisters,
Not a creature was stirring, no festive carol voices,
But with heads put together, and thinking caps adorn,
THE GIVING VOICE CAROL CONCERT ROCKED THE CRUCIFORM!

Tinsel was hung around the room with glee,
As choirs gathered to get themselves ready,
ALAS, what is this? The pianist is delayed?
No worry, a quick jig of the setlist was made!

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The crowds flooded in, about 150 or more!
Mince pies were nibbled as the mulled wine was poured.
The festive spirit began to fill the air,
As everyone sat to enjoy what we’d prepared.

First up: Downright Excellent, who sang Rudolph’s song!
Thanks to the kids and parents for coming along.
Next up was the talented UCLU Sign,
Whose performance was, quite simply, divine.

The Giving Voice choir joined the stage for the first time!
And the audience was eager, after learning some signs.
Wonderful Christmastime and Merry Christmas Everyone,
We sang and we danced, along with Makaton.

And last but not least, it was time for Sing For Joy!
The pianist arrived just in time for us to enjoy,
Such energy and charisma, their choir was enchanting,
They even got everyone up on stage dancing!

So thank you to all, who attended with a smile,
Your support and your enthusiasm made it all worthwhile.
We raised awareness of Giving Voice, PD and Downs Syndrome,
We hope you have a lovely Christmas all tucked up at home!

dsc_0484Alongside the carol concert, we ran a Downright Excellent volunteering programme and UCLU Giving Voice were able to support them in raising £260 through Christmas card sales. You can find out more about our visit to Downright excellent on our previous blog post. Downright Excellent are a wonderful charity that provide therapy to children with Down syndrome. It was great to have them in our carol concert this year and it was lovely to have an impromptu speech from one boy telling the audience  that he “loved his mum” and that “she looked very pretty” – I’m sure that made her night!

We were very lucky to have Sing For Joy Bloomsbury return for another year. Sing for Joy is a choir for people with Parkinson’s Disease and similar conditions, their friends and carers.  One person in every 500 has Parkinson’s, meaning around 127,000 people in the UK. Everyone’s experience of Parkinson’s is different: the symptoms someone has and how quickly the condition develops will differ from one person to the next. Their performance raised the roof and certainly got everyone in the festive spirit!

Thank you again for everyone who took part in the Giving Voice choir. We were lucky enough to have 30 Giving Voice members take part in our choir this year and we were so impressed by your devotion and enthusiasm in the event.

Thank you also to everyone who attended the event as spectators.  There was huge variety of people in the audience: family and friends of those performing, society members, undergrads and post-grads, and UCL staff. We were impressed with how many people in the audience got involved with the UCLU Giving Voice choir performance after being taught the signs for the chorus – The Singing Hands ladies, who were our inspiration for the performance, even commented saying that it was a great example of active not passive learning.

We have really enjoyed our first term as the UCLU Giving Voice Society, and look forward to many great things we have planned for 2017!

Have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year!

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UCL Giving Voice Committee

Facebook: UCLU Giving Voice Society

Twitter: @GivingVoice_UCL

Instagram: uclugivingvoice

Email: ucl.givingvoice@gmail.com

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UCLU Giving Voice Annual AAC Treasure Hunt 2016

October is International AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) Awareness Month and what better way to raise awareness of AAC that by getting people to experience it first-hand!

Some Key Facts on AAC:

  • It is used as a way to replace speech or to support speech in individuals with communication difficulties.
  •  AAC can also be used to help these individuals to understand what others are saying.
  • There are lots of different types of AAC. Signing, eye gaze, alphabet charts, ipad apps and voice output systems are all forms of AAC.
  • If you’ve ever given someone a “thumbs up” or waved goodbye, you’ve used AAC!
  • AAC is used by people of all ages. It is mainly used by people with Parkinson’s, Motor Neurone Disease, dementia, Alzheimers, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Learning Difficulties, and Cerebral Palsy.
  •  Approximately 652,000 people in the UK benefit from using AAC (Scope, 2008)
  • You can find more information here: http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/page/what-is- aac

Last year UCLU Giving Voice held a successful AAC Treasure Hunt and we have decided to make this an annual event. With committee members scattered around the Bloomsbury area, armed with low tech AAC devices, challenges and clues, the participants had to race to the finish line to win prizes.

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Teams meeting in the UCL Quad, getting ready to set off on the hunt. 

To start off the event, tokens were hidden around the UCL Main Campus and the team who could find the most had a head start in their journey to the first location. Committee members were easily identifiable around the area with ‘ASK ME’ signs and big glowing pink balloons.

We were surprised by the number of people not taking part in the event who stopped and asked us about what we were doing. This was a great opportunity to explain what Giving Voice was, what this event was aiming to do and where they can find out more information. None of the general public had heard of Giving Voice or AAC before, and it was often a mention of Stephen Hawking that made them understand. A member of staff from an underground station was particularly interested in Giving Voice as she said she wished she could received more training on supporting people with communication difficulties, owing to the fact that she comes in contact with them regularly.

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Teams using their Communication Boards to ask for help. 

Once teams reached their first location, they had to use their BoardMaker Communication Boards to ask for help, and were then given a written clue by committee members. If they needed further clues, participants were encouraged to continue using their AAC rather than resorting to using verbal language. Many participants realised how limiting this could be and would often search their communication boards for things they wanted to say, and had to use gestures to fill in the rest.

There were 5 locations around Bloomsbury that the teams had to find, and each location employed a different form of low tech AAC,  including image boards, yes/no cards, pen and paper, alphabet boards and fingerspelling. Once all 5 locations had been visited, they would eventually be signposted to the final mystery destination, which was, of course, a bar!

Throughout the course of the evening there were various challenges that the teams were encouraged to complete in order to shave minutes off of their final time. These included “Buy something for £1 using only AAC to communicate” and “Ask as many people as possible what the time is without using your voice”. A particular favourite was asking teams to spell GIVING VOICE with their bodies!

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‘Giving Voice’ letters formed with their bodies!

Additional fun challenges led to 5 random objects being collected, one stranger being videoed using AAC, 10 members of the public being spoken to about AAC, 22 instances of asking for the time without using words and 5 items being bought in local shops using only AAC. One team discussed the challenges they faced when buying an item in a shop: they found it hard to get the shop attendant’s attention without using words, as he was on the Screenshot_20161020-142327.pngphone. They then felt that he was trying to look at all the symbols on the communication board rather than the symbol that the team member was pointing to, which she found frustrating.

Overall the event was another huge success for UCLU Giving Voice. We had 25 people attend from a variety of courses including Computer Science, Psychology and Linguistics. Participants were eager and committed to using their AAC devices and were creative in the ways they tried to communicate for example demonstrating their knowledge of Makaton Sign!

This event gave attendees the chance to experience use of low tech AAC to replace speech. Some said AAC was fairly intuitive, but reflected that there were additional options on devices such as the communication board that they didn’t use but thought could have helped them in some interactions. This led to conversations about the need to promote uptake of AAC devices by thinking about the user’s needs and competence, and ensure there is support and training for users. One team member stated that AAC provided a shared experience, such as the letter board, because everyone could see what was being typed. This led to a conversation about

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Teams using their Communication Boards to ask for help.

attitudes towards AAC, and the fact that there are types of AAC that are becoming more ingrained in everyday life. For example, the increased use of everyday devices that require typing may mean that AAC may no longer be perceived as ‘odd’ or ‘different’.

The event ended in the UCLU Library Bar where some participants even used AAC to order pizza. The man who served them was not phased at all and engaged easily with their Boardmaker Communication Board. He said it seemed to “make sense” and was appreciative when complimented on his good communication skills.

Team One were the overall winners of the 2016 AAC Treasure Hunt, and received a little parcel of goodies. Congratulations to team one! Head over to our social media pages to see more photos and videos from the evening.

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UCL Giving Voice Committee

Facebook: UCLU Giving Voice Society

Twitter: @GivingVoice_UCL

Instagram: uclugivingvoice

 

Bloomsbury Festival 2016

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The Bloomsbury Festival is a creative celebration of art, culture and science which takes place each October with over 130 events held over five days. This year’s events are inspired by the theme LANGUAGE, and UCL will open the gates of the Main Quad on Saturday 22nd October from 11am – 5pm to host a range of exciting activities “Beyond Words – A day to play with a sideways slant on language”.

UCLU Giving Voice are proud to be involved and support the UCL Communication Clinic in raising awareness about the challenges of living with aphasia. We will be helping the public get involved with an interactive art exhibit about “Lost Words”; surveying the public about how they feel communicating with people who have aphasia; and facilitating the interaction of artists who have aphasia with the public as they display their artwork.

UCLU Giving Voice members will have EXCLUSIVE PREFERENCE in being able to volunteer for this event. We will be holding some optional drop-in lunchtime training before the event for anyone who is super-keen but a bit nervous about the opportunity to support people living with aphasia.

Become a Giving Voice member today and look out for the email on Tuesday 18th October with instructions for how to volunteer for the Bloomsbury Festival and details about training.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch via social media.

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UCL Giving Voice Committee

Facebook: UCLU Giving Voice Society

Twitter: @GivingVoice_UCL

Instagram: uclugivingvoice

UCLU Giving Voice Taster Evening

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For the very first time, we – the UCLU Giving Voice Society – ran a Taster Evening on Wednesday 5th October 2016 to spread awareness about speech and language therapy, and what it may be like for somebody with a speech, language, communication or swallowing need.

We are extremely pleased to say it was an overwhelming success!

We had some first year MSc Speech and Language Science students attend, but the majority of attendees were undergraduates from a variety of UCL courses including: Linguistics, Psychology and Computer Science. It’s fantastic that so soon into this academic year, we already feel like we are reaching out to new people, sparking a genuine interest and initiating realisation about the importance of what Giving Voice stands for.

If you missed out on this event, we will be making our slides from our introductory presentation available on our Facebook page, alongside all photos and videos of our stalls (see descriptions below!). If you were wondering how your field/ interests may be relevant to Giving Voice and want to find out more, please have a look at them. Not only may you be surprised by some of the facts and statistics we’ve found, but you may also be surprised to realise that your own skill base could bring something incredible to the society.

A particular highlight of the presentation included clips of tremendous comedian, Lost Voice Guy, who we hope may feature as a guest for us at an event later in the year… Watch this space!

If you’re intrigued, have any questions or ideas, or want to get involved with Giving Voice in the future, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

We would love to hear from you!

 

UCL Giving Voice Committee

Facebook: UCLU Giving Voice Society

Twitter@GivingVoice_UCL

Instagram: uclugivingvoice

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Word Finding (‘Articulate’) Stall

In our ‘Word Finding’ game, players were given a series of written words and asked to describe these words to a partner. We challenged them to see how many words their partner could correctly guess from their descriptions in just one minute! This game aimed to replicate the experience of word finding difficulties, where people have severe difficulty in producing words despite having a clear understanding of the word they wish to use. Everyone experiences this type of difficulty from time to time: it is the experience of a word being on ‘the tip of your tongue’. However, those with atypical word finding difficulties may find that it has a severe impact on their communication, which became clear to those playing the word finding game. They expressed frustration that some words were extremely difficult to describe and that it was challenging to try and quickly develop an array of alternative definitions for words if their partner was having trouble guessing. Some even expressed frustration at their partner when they were not able to guess the word from their (obviously very clear!) descriptions.

As well as allowing people to experience the challenging and frustrating aspects of word finding difficulties, this game allowed players to experience a compensation strategy that some people use to try overcome these difficulties: circumlocution. This strategy involves describing a word you are struggling to find by using lots of other related words. By describing the words they had written down, players were using circumlocution to help their partners guess the word. This had varying levels of success! While some people were only able to get their partner to guess one or two answers, one expert describer managed to get their partner to guess an impressive eight words! This demonstrates how effective this type of communication strategy can be if an individual is skilled at circumlocution and if the person you are talking to is good at interpreting that information!

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Idiom ‘Pictionary’ & Charades Stall

The Idiom Pictionary & Charades activity seemed popular among the attendees. For this activity, there were different idioms and well-known English phrases on the table; one person had to choose one at random and then through either drawing and/or charades only, had to try and communicate the message to their partner. No talking allowed!

What seems like such a simple game is actually quite difficult and can be very frustrating! Many people who had a go commented that it was difficult to convey the meaning of their phrase without using words, particularly as it involved figurative language, which is one of many experiences individuals with communication difficulties have when they cannot communicate their message. Some people also found it hard to get inside their partner’s head and work out what their drawings or gestures were referring to, which is also a barrier communication partners face with people with speech, language and communication needs.

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Thickened Fluids Stall

In the atrium of Chandler House we provided some refreshments with a twist! The dysphagia stall gave people the experience of trying thickened liquids and opening up a discussion about what it must be like to have a swallowing difficulty.People with swallowing problems may struggle to swallow thin liquids, such as water, as they pass through the mouth quickly and are hard to control. Most people know this as ‘going down the wrong way’, and those with a regular swallow may find that they are able to clear their throat to easily fix this. People regularly coughing when drinking fluids, however, are at a high risk of the fluid entering their lungs, which could cause a chest infection known as aspiration pneumonia.

To prevent this from happening, patients would have their drinks thickened. This is safer as it moves slower and allows better control of the swallow. Three different consistencies were made last night (syrup, custard and pudding) so that attendees had the opportunity to compare them all. Some were made with orange juice and others with water, but everyone came to a consensus that the thickener was more tolerable when there was a stronger flavour.

Everyone who approached this stall was hesitant about trying the thickened fluids, based on their murky appearance, but most were willing to have a go! Some people even practiced thickening the fluids themselves to a custard thickness and were fascinated as they felt it thicken with every stir. We had a few psychologists attend the event, which led to really interesting discussions about the psychological impact of having to ‘eat’ your drinks by using a spoon. Overall people appeared genuinely interested to learn about dysphagia and stated that it was not something they had ever considered before.

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AAC Stall

One of the interactive activities at the taster evening involved each pair giving and receiving instructions using AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) devices. According to the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, AAC are forms of communication that either replace speech or are used to support people to communicate, such as signing, symbols, eye gaze devices, communication boards and voice output aids (think Stephen Hawking). Individuals with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) might use AAC, as well as those with Cerebral Palsy, Parkinson’s, MND (Motor Neurone Disease) or complex learning needs. October marks International AAC Awareness Month, and if you are particularly interested in finding out more about it, whilst also having fun, we are holding an AAC Treasure Hunt around Bloomsbury on the 19th October 2016.

During our activity, one person in each pair was given a blank maze and the other was given the same maze but with a point marked on it. Using a communication app that was downloaded onto an iPad, directions were given purely using this alternative means of communication. All of the people who had a go at this activity were interested in finding out a bit more about the different client groups who would use this kind of device and there were many discussions around the different types of AAC device available, such as eye gaze devices. Many people made the link to figures such as Stephen Hawking and some computer science students who attended were even interested in how the more complex devices work!

For most of the students, this activity was their first experience of seeing and using AAC devices and they found it fascinating to experience a communicative exchange using alternative means of communication.

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Fiction or Diction (Balderdash) Stall

In our Fiction or Diction game, players were given two words matched with their definitions. Players were asked to either read the definition of one of the words, or make up their own definition of that word, being as weird and wacky as they wanted. Their partner had to guess whether the definition provided was the real one, or had been made up.

Players seemed to really enjoy this game, and were coming up with weird and wacky definitions for lots of the words they were reading. After the games players made lots of interesting comments about being able to recognise the words, or parts of the word, but had no idea about the real definition of the words they heard. This provided an interesting experience of what it might be like to have some language difficulties, where they cannot access meanings of words and can therefore lose the whole meanings of sentences.  For players making up definitions it also provided an interesting experience of ‘circumlocution’, whereby people with language difficulties may ‘talk around words’. This was because many players said that they tried to use the definitions on the card as a guide, to help them come up with meanings, but found it difficult to change the language, so found that they were talking for a long time to describe things which were very similar to what they were reading.

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Makaton Practice Stall

We had one stall which gave people the opportunity to practice using some Makaton signs. Makaton is a programme which uses signs, symbols and speech to help people communicate. It also uses facial expression, tone of voice and positional gesture to supplement the hand signs, so it really is a comprehensive approach to communication!

Signs are used to enhance key words in a sentence in spoken word order – this gives extra clues to the person receiving the message, or might help a person whose speech is unclear make themselves understood.

People responded well to learning how to exchange greetings (“hello, how are you?” “I’m good thank you”) and finger spell their name. It was exciting to see the ‘penny drop’ moment for lots of participants when they realised how intuitive many of the signs were. People reflected that trying to supplement their spoken communication to ensure successful interaction isn’t necessarily scary – it can be really rewarding. Many people asked questions about the types of clients who might benefit from using Makaton and why professionals would use this type of communication.

Only one of the visitors to this stall had heard of Makaton prior to the Taster Evening, so this was a great opportunity to share a new approach to communication! We signposted people towards the Makaton website for further resources and training courses.

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Hearing Aids Stall

At our hearing aid stall, we gave people the opportunity to learn more about what hearing aids are and how they work. Individuals were given the chance to try on a hearing aid (albeit a very old model!) and walk around the events and interact with different people to get a sense of what it is to be a hearing aid user and how communication might differ to prevent communication break downs. Everyone was very enthusiastic in learning more about the mechanics of hearing aids and how they have developed over the years.

Ultimately, it allowed people to have a dialogue on interactions they have had with hearing aid users, experiences of family/friends who are hearing aid users, as well as how communication partners play a vital role in ensuring communication runs smoothly ie: facing the individual directly, speaking clearly but not over articulating and exaggerating lip  movements, as well as not shouting as it may be uncomfortable for a hearing aid user (Action on Hearing loss).

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UCLU Welcome Fair 2016!

On the 1st and 2nd October the UCLU Giving Voice Committee attended the UCLU Fresher’s Welcome Fair and had a fantastic time meeting new people and spreading the word about Giving Voice. Rain definitely failed to dampen spirits!

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Our eye-catching stall at the Fresher’s Fair.

 

Thanks to RCSLT Giving Voice UK we were able to decorate our stall with Giving Voice badges, pens and balloons. We had spent time creating banners, posters and flyers to inform the freshers about what Giving Voice is all about, and to advertise our future events. We managed to hand out 295 flyers to people over the course of the two days!

We created many fun, quick challenges for our visitors to complete in order to enter into a prize raffle draw. The aim of these challenges was to get people talking about speech, language and communication difficulties, by asking people to describe certain terms without the use of words, produce signs, or reading a jumbled sentence with a fact about SLCN.

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Teaching us the BSL sign for ‘Festival’

We were really impressed with the response to these challenges and the number of people who were willing to give it a go and engage in a conversation about it with afterwards. We were able to teach at least 8 people to sign “hello, how are you?”, and one girl taught us a new BSL sign for ‘Festival’!

Over the course of the weekend, we also took the opportunity to carry out a quick poll to discover how many people knew what a Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) did, and how many people had experience with someone who had a speech, language or communication need (SLCN). We managed to ask 122 people these questions and had some really interesting responses!

Only 37% knew what an SLT did, with a common response that they ‘help people who stammer’. Two of the people we asked knew someone who was a practicing Speech and Language Therapist. 40% of people had experience of someone with SLCN. 3 people had received therapy for speech or language difficulties as children and 4 people had friends or ffreshers2amily with Autism Spectrum Disorder and had seen SLTs make a difference in their lives. 1 person had a hearing impaired classmate and used to sign to her in classes, and 1 person had a friend with a stammer.

Only 17% of people we asked had heard of Giving Voice: most other people assumed it ‘something to do with singing’, and those who had heard of it associated the society with ‘volunteering’. One person we spoke to actually felt he had an undiagnosed language problem and found it particularly interesting to hear about the work around supporting people with these difficulties.

We also used this opportunity to talk to other societies, such as the UCLU Sign Language Society and the UCLU Volunteering Society, and we look forward to working collaboratively on some events with them in the future!

Overall, the response was great and one girl who didn’t know what Giving Voice or SLCN was on Saturday, even brought her friend back to our stall on Sunday and explained it to her. We hit social media hard over the weekend, documenting everything we were doing, and with great results:

119 likes on our Instagram photos (and counting..!)

comments on our instagram photos

86 ‘engagements’ with our Twitter posts (number of interactions with tweets, eg liking, retweeting, clicking a link)

1,900 ‘impressions’ on Twitter (number of times users saw the tweets on twitter)

10 likes on twitter

16 likes on Facebook

 

We’ve really had an amazing weekend as a committee interacting with you all and spreading awareness. Here’s to the year to come!!

We will be announcing the winner of our raffle prize soon, so keep an eye out on social media for the announcement!

twitterlogoUCL Giving Voice Committee

Facebook: uclugivingvoicesociety

Twitter: @GivingVoice_UCL

Instagram: uclugivingvoice