True friendship through communication

Posted on 28 August 2015 by Yooralla

Sharing stories, secret jokes and memories, and being there during the good times and the bad, is the foundation of many friendships.

However, how can you develop a friendship when you communicate in different ways? 

Violetta attends Yooralla’s St Alban’s Community Hub. Yooralla’s Community Hubs provide a range of activities and programs facilitated on site or within the community. Violetta lives with a hearing impairment, making community and social inclusion often challenging.

Staff at the Hub could see Violetta was having difficulty communicating with her friend Ann. Violetta wanted help with the laundry and Ann wanted Violetta to listen to her stories. “Violetta couldn’t understand what I was saying,” says Ann. 

There was a gap in communication due to Violetta’s hearing impairment and Ann not knowing sign language. 

Ann decided she’d like to learn how to better communicate with Violetta, so with the support of staff at the Hub, Ann began learning Makaton sign language.

Makaton is a language program that uses signs and symbols to help people to communicate. It is designed to support spoken language and the signs and symbols are used with speech, in spoken word order. 

Yooralla staff member Casey Pilcher is trained in Makaton sign language and runs weekly communications classes at the Hub. These sessions aim to empower Yooralla customers by supporting the development of their communication skills. “It’s important that everyone is able to communicate in the community and with their friends,” says Casey.  

Every week in the communications class, Casey teaches the group a new word in Makaton. Casey has taught Ann how to ask questions in Makaton, which means Ann can now have longer, better conversations with her good friend Violetta.

Now that Ann has achieved her first goal of learning Makaton, Ann and Casey are working on the next one – sharing her knowledge with her peers at the Hub. “It would be great if Ann could teach everyone a word a week in their weekly customer meetings,” says Casey. By getting everyone involved in learning Makaton, Violetta will feel even more connected with her friends. 

Ann is excited about sharing Makaton with the group, but being quite shy at times, Ann has one request: “I will only do it if my friend Violetta will join in and help me.” 

Yooralla’s Community Hubs support the development of individual goals and aspirations through planned programs and supports that enhance lifestyle skills that promote choice, inclusion and independence. 

Learn more about Yooralla's Community Hubs.

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