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Ava holds her communication book
September 27, 2018

Design Centre gives young girl a voice

As Ava got older, it became clear to her parents that she had lots of ideas she wanted to express, but no way of getting those ideas across. Her difficulties communicating caused a lot of frustration for both she and her parents. When they met with their team at Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre (RJCHC), they learned there were tools she could use to express herself, even though she couldn’t speak clearly.

The Design Centre

The Design Centre has produced thousands of communication tools for children and adults in our area. This unique service combines clinical expertise with design talent to create items that help people learn and express themselves.

Deborah Barr, communicative disorders assistant, has been doing this work for 24 years. Over the course of her career, she has produced countless customized projects, and numerous copies of her most popular designs.

How it works:

  1. A clinical staff member, such as a speech language pathologist, meets with a patient or family member to talk about their communication needs.
  2. Together, they decide what types of aids might benefit them.
  3. The clinician brings those ideas to Deborah in the Design Centre to see how they can be created.
  4. Deborah identifies existing aids that can be produced for the patient, and/or designs new customized aids to meet the patient’s needs.
  5. Certain aids are customized with photos and items from the patient’s life, such as family members or favourite foods.
  6. The designs are printed, laminated, cut, and finished with binding or velcro, as needed.
  7. The materials are shared with the family so they can learn how to use them.

The Design Centre produces a wide variety of visual materials including:

  • communication books
  • song boards
  • routine boards
  • reward boards

The Design Centre works with staff at Hamilton Health Sciences’ RJCHC, and with a variety of community organizations to supply visual materials for people who need them.