Community Participation: Empowering People with Disabilities to Explore New Destinations.

Resources to increase community participation for people with a disability

Working in the Disability Industry, I have witnessed some individuals visit the same place and do the same activities on a daily basis. Community participation and trying new experiences, can be overwhelming for people with a disability. With this being said, everyone should have the opportunity to choose different places and social experiences. With the right resources a person with a disability can enjoy a full and enriched life.

Routine is essential; some people with a disability like routine; it makes the person feel safe and secure in their environment. Anxiety and confusion can seep in if a person’s routine is suddenly changed without the right supports to facilitate the change.

Encourage community access by keeping verbal communication to a minimum.

For some people, verbal communication can get muddled; keep wording to a minimum and pair spoken words with a pictures, for faster and more accurate processing of information. Pictures are clear and concise, leaving minimal opportunity for confusion. Uncertainty can cause anxiety; anxiety can lead to behaviours.

Every person has a story: knowing their story may increase the level of community participation.

Find out what the individual’s interests are. Speak to family members, sit down with the individual you are supporting and look through photo albums, browse images on the internet. If the person is non verbal, look for reactions through facial expressions and body language.

I was supporting someone who was non-verbal, and for years, without question, this person went bowling. Only after speaking with family did we learn that he was raised on a farm till his early teens and loves horses. He now happily attends Riding for the Disability, once per week. 

Encourage decision-making.

A picture speaks a thousand words!

Verbal communication can get lost, a visual choice-board is a great tool to encourage someone to consider a new activity and be enticed by the visual image. It also gives an individual choice and control over what they do and where they go.

  • Start by placing two pictures of different places to choose from.
  • Encourage the individual to point to the activity they would like.
  • Support the person to give you the picture.
  • Pair the picture with the verbal word to build receptive and expressive language.
  • Place the visual on a person’s weekly schedule.
Supporting people in increasing community participation

Visual Schedules can act as a tool to comprehend routine change.

Visual schedules are great for supporting a person to understand what to expect. They remove the pressure from verbal language and act as a tool for more efficient information processing. 

Here are some things to consider when visiting new places:

  • Will the place you are visiting be crowded?
  • Will there be a lot of noise?
  • How will you get there?
  • What resources do you need to keep yourself and the individual safe?
  • Is the place you are visiting accessible?
  • Where are the toilets located?

Wishing everyone a happy, fun and memorable experience exploring our amazing Country!

Discover the power of effective visual communication strategies by exploring more articles on our website.”

Alison Mooney

I am a mother first, Blogger and Founder of See-n-Speak Communication Picture Exchange resources for people with a Disability. Sharing our resources and knowledge successfully using picture exchange as a form of communication with our child.