Due to the pandemic I have been doing a lot of video conferencing with people I normally see in person. In face to face conversations some people understand my speech, and for spontaneity and speed my personal assistant often repeats what I’ve said verbatim. When I use my communication aid people can see what I am doing and usually know to wait for me to finish composing my message.

On any video conference I’ve found it hard to get a word in. After discussing this with my support team at UK Boccia we have adopted the following strategy that works for me:

  • when I want to contribute I put something (anything including just a letter) in the message box on the video platform
  • the conference leader acknowledges this and I prepare my contribution, everyone else continues to talk
  • when I’m ready I put something else into the message box and wait
  • the conference leader brings me in to the discussion reminding everyone where we were at when I wanted to speak
  • after I’ve made my contribution, and following any discussion, the conference leader recaps what I missed and we continue.

To facilitate this discussion we talked about the speed of my contribution, most people with a natural voice speak at 150 to 210 words per minute. When I am using my communication aid my input speed is around 20 words per minute, although when I have pre-programmed I deliver this at about 80 words per minute. I choose to do this at a slower rate than natural speech to give listeners a chance to assimilate what I am saying.

In life generally my key messages for my communication partners are straightforward, I’m pleased if they can:

  • Respect my choice of communication, be it voice, sign, electronic communication aid or body language
  • Be patient, wait for me to compose my message, please don’t walk away
  • Try to look interested whilst I’m composing
  • Not interrupt when I’m composing
  • Not finish my sentences to speed things up
  • Let me say what I need to say, I wouldn’t put words in your mouth
  • Not correct my spelling, even if you think it’s wrong, the message matters not the spelling
  • Not look over my shoulder to read the message, unless I invite you
  • Help me maintain my privacy, my screen is also my phone so my text messages are personal

Good communication skills are a joy in any conversation.

Now you are here please look around my website. There is a communication section which has some AAC communication resources that I have created, or been part of creating, over the last few years.

Did you find this information helpful? Feel free to share