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'What's your name?' A case study

By Zoe Robertson and Simon Judge

Abstract

We all know and appreciate the benefits of social interaction and peer support.\ud Being in an environment with our peers and people who have similar abilities and needs as ourselves is reassuring and confidence building. We only have to look at the recent explosion in social networking on the internet to see that it is something which people value. As well as using these networks to communicate with existing friends it is also possible to join interest specific groups and meet people this way.\ud Even though people met through these groups are often strangers, the shared interest/ ability means it seems safe to communicate with them. It is often daunting to be in a new social and work environment until we are able to establish a common interest with people, and then this allows us to relax.\ud Social networks and peer support are obviously equally important to people with disabilities and interacting with people with similar disabilities or - as presented in this paper, similar aids - can be extremely important. Communication aid users may feel isolated or frustrated by a\ud lack of peers or role models since it can be difficult to establish this peer environment if you are a minority group.\ud Previous work has illustrated the benefits of both social networks and role models (Musselwhite 2005, Blackstone 2005, Clarke 2005). There has also been development of functions such as the ability to tell jokes (O’Mara and Waller 1999, 2003) or partake in small talk (Cantine) with a communication aid - so enhancing a person’s ability to interact in a more natural conversation.\ud This paper describes an initiative which has organised communication mornings within Doncaster, Rotherham and Barnsley to give students using communication aids an opportunity to meet other users and interact in a real environment.\u

Publisher: Communication Matters
Year: 2007
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:10289

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