Open Streets takes on Ability Awareness
Last Sunday, lead awesome dude, Nick and his team invaded the Open Streets of Fort Collins for Open Streets 2018. Open Streets is an event in Fort Collins where an entire three-mile stretch of neighborhood streets are closed off for local booths and citizens of Fort Collins to bike through. We were invited to be a part of it.
Nick was excited to have Awesome Advocate Samantha Strong as a part of the event this year because she’s funny, smart and she brought some speech devices so passers by could experience what it’s like to use a device to communicate. Samantha works for PRC and helps individuals use tools to help foster inclusive relationships with others. For more information on Samantha and PRC, you are invited to check out their website at Prentke Romich Company.
At our Awesome in Action booth, we had several fun activities that people could try. One of which was the Wheelchair Obstacle Race, where racers would hop in a manual wheelchair and race through an obstacle course. Many kids loved experiencing what it’s like to drive a wheelchair around.
Another one of our fun activities was trying out a speech device that our wonderful friend Samantha brought along. Nick thinks speech devices are awesome because he can tell stories, he can speak his mind, share favorite movie quotes and clips with his friends.
We also got to roam around Open Streets with awesome Olivia catching a ride on the back of Nick’s wheelchair. Nick’s favorite part was using his speech device, named Percy, to talk to all of the people he passed by.
Overall, we loved being a apart of Open Streets because it was so fun. We loved sharing the mission of Awesome in Action with the people of Fort Collins, and letting them experience how people of different abilities use different tools to get through life. We are looking forward to next year!
The Do’s and Don’ts of Conversing: Speech Device Etiquette brought to you by Awesome in Action
After many, many years and conversations in the community with people unfamiliar with Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Nick and his team have put together a comprehensive guideline for the average Joe (or Joe-ette) to reference. Hope it helps all parties within a conversation!
We’ll Start with the Do’s, since they seem more positive:
Do…Hear me. Listen to my words, and ask me to turn up my device or repeat if you do not understand.
Do…Focus on me when I’m talking. My words are important, too.
Do…Realize it is hard to speak in complete thoughts. It takes a lot of work for me to move my arms and find the right word on my speech device
Do…Recognize that I use a combination of gestures and words to get my point across.
Do…Understand my care providers are here to help me communicate. I am the one who wants to talk to you.
Do…Talk to me, not about me or above me.
Do…Talk to me like you would anyone else. I have a sense of humor, and I am just like you!
Do...Respect my personal boundaries. I do not need to be touched while you are talking to me. Family members and care providers need to remember this especially!
Do…Wait for me to finish talking. Be o.k. with quiet as I look for the correct words.
Do…Minimize distractions, it takes a bit of focus for me to communicate.
And now for the Don’ts….
Don’t….Talk too loud. I have a great sense of hearing, my friends call me “bat ears”
Don’t…Move too fast.I need to look at my speech device and cannot always have eye contact with you. Sometimes I miss gestures or facial expressions that you may need to repeat.
Don’t… try to respond for me because I am taking too long.
Don’t…assume I’m unintelligent and talk down to me just because it takes me awhile to respond.
Don’t… talk above my head. I can hear and I have feelings!
Don’t….ask me to perform. I will say the things I want to say when I want to say them (and deal with the repercussions!)