KIDS VOICE AP­PROVAL OF CHAT TECH

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - SA­MAN­THA HEALY

IT IS some­thing we all take for granted – the abil­ity to chat freely with other peo­ple. But for these chil­dren, a new world has opened up thanks to ad­vance­ments in tech­nol­ogy.

Nine chil­dren, aged be­tween six and 14, tested some of the world’s most cut­ting- edge com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vices dur­ing the first Townsville Camp Have a Chat, a three- day gath­er­ing for young­sters un­able to speak due to phys­i­cal or in­tel­lec­tual dis­abil­i­ties. The pro­gram is de­signed to help young peo­ple with com­plex com­mu­ni­ca­tion needs to de­velop con­fi­dence and self- es­teem by us­ing new tech­nol­ogy and tech­niques.

Chil­dren from as far away as Gor­don­vale at­tended the camp, held at Aitken­vale from Tues­day un­til yesterday. Cere­bral Palsy League al­lied health man­ager and speech pathol­o­gist Re­becca Daniloff said peo­ple with com­mu­ni­ca­tion prob­lems of­ten felt iso­lated. “Since the camp started ( on Tues­day) we have seen some new friend­ships form­ing,” Ms Daniloff said. “It is quite spe­cial to watch and is a real boost for the kids.”

The chil­dren have tri­alled var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ca­tions books, iPad ap­pli­ca­tions, and hi- tech de­vices. The prod­ucts can range in price from $ 350 for an app to $ 20,000 for some of the most ad­vanced de­vices.

“There is a big price range and CPL ther­a­pists help fam­i­lies se­lect the best op­tions for them and pro­vide ad­vice to fam­i­lies about ways to ac­cess gov­ern­ment fund­ing,” Ms Daniloff said.

“Some of the chil­dren have de­vices al­ready, while oth­ers have re­cently got­ten their de­vices and oth­ers are wait­ing for them to ar­rive. It gives them a voice.’’

Pic­ture: SHAE BE­PLATE

TEST TALK: Speech pathol­o­gist Jes­sica Moll guides Poppy D’Arcy, 9, through some gad­getry at Camp Have a Chat.

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