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Optus grant helps special-needs kids communicate

A specialist school in Victoria has been awarded more than $9000 to purchase iPads and speech assistance apps for senior students who have difficulty communicating.

St Pauls College – a special needs school in Melbourne that caters to students with multiple disabilities – received the funding from this year’s Optus Community Grants program.

With this much needed funding the school has purchased iPads loaded with communication assistance software for each classroom, to support the APPsolute AACcess program.

The program uses specially designed speech assistance software applications to encourage senior school students, aged 14-18 years who have difficulty communicating but show a desire to improve beyond their current ability, to build their communication skills and learn language skills to navigate real-life situations.

Louise Docherty, musical therapist and program initiator at St Paul’s College, said, “Receiving the Optus Community Grant means that we are able to deliver the AAPsolute AACcess programme using the best available technology resources to help our students with the challenges they face.”

“We believe that the program will help improve communication for our students by giving them a fun, engaging way to learn and develop,” Doherty said.

Doherty said there is number of students at the school who aren’t able to communicate verbally and that the program is teaching children to learn to communicate with the use of iPads.

“Some of the students didn’t have any means of communication prior to the project…now the app is allowing students to express their needs more easily.

“If a child wants to go to the toilet or a child is hungry, they’ll be able to access the app on their iPad and let the teacher know that,” Docherty said.

Click below to hear more from Louise Docherty.


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