Speaking up for those who go unheard

Speech pathology staff and students from the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University will take part in a worldwide event to recognise the challenges faced by people living with a communication disability.

The University's speech pathology course was established in 2011 and has quickly grown to cater for 100 students offering combined undergraduate degrees and a graduate entry master's program. Many of the first graduates from 2013 are working as speech therapists in the region, providing vital support for those in the community with communication needs.

On Friday, speech pathology professionals and students will gather to convey messages of hope to those living with a communications disability.

'Communication and swallowing disabilities limit a person's ability to participate fully in life, their involvement in community, education opportunities and potential for work,' said La Trobe's Associate Professor Bernice Mathisen, Team Leader in Speech Pathology at LRHS.

'What's truly exciting is seeing our students advocating for social change. They're the next generation of speech pathologists and they're holding themselves accountable for making great things happen.'

Associate Professor Mathisen said communication disabilities are largely ignored by international health bodies and policy makers.

'For example, The World Health Organization's (WHO) World Report on Disability estimates that roughly one billion people around the world are living with some form of disability. But WHO cannot tell us exactly how many of these people have a communication disability.'

Friday's event is one of thousands taking place across the globe by the International Communication Project 2014 (ICP2014). ICP2014 is an international coalition of campaigners and organisations seeking recognition for those who live with a communication disability.


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