Blog posts by Maree Ireland

Working within the digital age

Oct 3, 2016

As a person with a speech impairment, I can remember how 'liberating' it felt to be able to 'communicate' almost spontaneously with people by email and without needing any assistance to do it.

Then came 'SMS', Facebook and other forms of digital communication which are easy to use and provide almost spontaneous connection with family and friends especially for people with disabilities. Of course it goes without saying that these forms of communication can never replace person to person communication and the closeness of being in the company of family, loved ones and friends.

Recently, it has been stated in the news that for some people, this digital means of communication has created isolation and lack of 'personal contact' with people which is a sad reflection on society. It also illustrates the irony of the situation where, prior to this digital age of communication, most people with disabilities were, to some extent, isolated within society.  But with digital communication, social isolation for people with disabilities has decreased.

On another level, for people with disabilities, digital communication has made the control and maintenance of their disability support funding and contact with their disability support workers so much more 'do-able' on an independent basis.  This is so important and uplifting for people with disabilities.

However, there is a downside to this. It is becoming more apparent to Field, that some potential disability support workers have not become 'digital communication savvy'.  This will cause issues not only for people with disabilities, but for workers themselves because most of their work contact and opportunities i.e. offers of shifts etc. is done either by SMS or email.  As well, with the continual implementation of the NDIS, more people with disabilities and their families/supporters will be taking over management of their disability support packages and will want (and expect) direct communication with their support workers either by SMS or email.  This means workers who are not 'digital savvy' will miss out on all fronts.

Field provides regular updated training of CPR, First Aid, Infection Control and Manual Handling. With the increasing move towards using digital communication methods do you feel there is a need for training in 'digital communication'?

Please let us know if you would be interested in such training by emailing me at  maree.ireland@field.org,.au