A powerful exhibition to raise awareness of communications difficulties has opened in Carrickfergus.
‘My Journey, My Voice’ will run at Carrickfergus Library during September.
Communication difficulties will affect almost one in five people at some point in their lives and around one third of people will experience some form of communication difficulties after suffering a stroke.
The portraits and stories exhibition focuses on nine people who each have a communication difficulty. Visitors can look at the portraits and listen to an audio recording where the person in each portrait tells a story about a memorable journey they have taken – a trip to the beach, an exciting holiday and the first day of a new job.
The project was commissioned by The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists as part of its Giving Voice campaign and is also supported by Disability Action and the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Board.
Due to their disability, many of those participating 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 that produce electronic speech.
Launching the exhibition in Carrickfergus Library, Alderman May Beattie said: “We can often take for granted the ability to be able to communicate freely, so it is hugely important that we help raise awareness of the difficulties faced by many people who cannot communicate so easily.
“The exhibition is a wonderful opportunity to gain an insight into the lives of people living with a communication difficulty and to hear from them directly.”
Alison McCullough MBE, RCSLT Head of Northern Ireland Office, spoke about the challenges for those with a communication difficulty. She said: “This powerful exhibition has been instrumental in allowing people with communication difficulties to have their voice heard, so we must become better at understanding those issues and see past the disability to the person living with it.
“This important exhibition demonstrates that each of our participants, whilst living with a speech and language difficulty, can still communicate meaningfully and effectively. We must become more patient and challenge the stigma that they can often feel.”