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My Journey My Voice celebrates end of tour with Libraries NI

My Journey My Voice, an award-winning exhibition developed by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists has opened in the Shankill Road Library
Helen Osborn, Margaret Rice and Alison McCullough.

My Journey My Voice, an award-winning exhibition developed by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, to raise awareness of communication difficulties, was recently opened by Baroness May Blood in the Shankill Road Library in Belfast.

The exhibition was commissioned by The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists as part of its Giving Voice campaign and is supported by Libraries NI, Disability Action and the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Board.

Communication difficulties will affect almost one in five people in Northern Ireland at some point in their lives and this portraits and stories exhibition focuses on nine people who each have a different communication difficulty. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to simultaneously listen to an audio recording and look at an individual’s portrait whilst they hear them tell a story about a memorable journey that they have taken – a trip to the beach, an exciting holiday or the first day of a new job.

Due to their communication disability, many of the participants have voices and speech that will sound different to listeners. Some use vocalisations which may be unintelligible to anyone other than close family. Others use alternative or augmentative forms of communication (AAC), such as signs and or symbols, or communication devices which require advanced technology.

Viewing the portraits and listening to the voice recordings will enable anyone who experiences the exhibition to gain an insight into communication difficulties and how they impact on people’s daily lives.

Opening the exhibition in the Shankill Road Library, Baroness May Blood said:

“It is a real privilege to be asked to open the My Journey My Voice exhibition here in the Shankill Road Library. This project is so important because it outlines how communication difficulties can impact on people in very different ways.

“Managing communication difficulties properly, particularly in the early years can make a significant difference to the life outcomes for those affected by them. Not dealing with them early on can result in associated problems such as bullying, poor mental health, educational underachievement and many more.”

Alison McCullough MBE, RCSLT Head of Northern Ireland Office, spoke about the challenges for those with a communication difficulty. She said:

“As we come to the end of the Libraries NI tour of My Journey My Voice, it is heartening to see how successful it has been in raising awareness of the many obstacles facing people living with communication difficulties. We set out to do this project because we know that whilst these issues affect one in five people, the general public may be unaware of the broad scope and range of communication difficulties faced by a large proportion of our population.

“Although the Libraries NI tour is coming to a close, this is not the end of the road for the My Journey My Voice project. The RCSLT has secured funding from the Health and Social Care Board to develop this concept into a schools project which is really exciting. The legacy of My Journey My Voice will be to continue to raise awareness amongst our young people, and hopefully promote better inclusion for children who have speech difficulties.”

Helen Osborn, Acting Chief Executive of Libraries NI said:

“It has been a privilege to work with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists and to host the My Journey My Voice exhibition. Customers of different ages and backgrounds have visited the exhibition in libraries and found it to be an invaluable learning experience. I know that this will impact their understanding and the understanding of many others in their local communities.”

The exhibition will be on display in Shankill Road Library until 08 January 2018 and can be viewed online via myjourneymyvoice.org.

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