Joanne DavisA woman with learning disabilities is working with speech therapists in Dorset to provide training to people who support adults with learning disabilities.

 Joanne Davis, who has a mild learning disability, is working with Dorset HealthCare’s speech and language therapists to provide ‘Total Communication’ training for people who support adults with learning disabilities.

 Total Communication is about building shared communication with people by using easier words, keeping sentences short, showing people what is meant, slowing down and giving people more time to understand and respond.

Davis has been supported to work as a Total Communication co-trainer by Town Farm Workshops in Sixpenny Handley, a day centre project that provides work-related activities for people with disabilities. 

Working as a co-trainer, Davis has helped to highlight the communication difficulties experienced by adults with learning disabilities and show course participants how they can use key word signing to support people to understand and express themselves. 

“I really enjoy getting out and about, I love signing and helping people and can’t wait until my next training session,” she said.

Course participants have valued Davis’ input. One person wrote it was: “Good having someone who uses signing every day to teach us. Jo’s signing was clear and easy to understand. Well done Jo and keep up the good work!”

In addition to the Total Communication courses, Davis has trained her own carers at Cecil Court in Cranborne, which provides individuals with learning disabilities and mental health conditions to live in their own flats in a 24-hour supported environment, and is run by care provider Regard.

“We’re all incredibly proud of her,” said Cecil Court team leader Mercedes Ramsden. “What’s great about Joanne is she is able to teach students to ‘see’ things through her eyes, which is invaluable for professionals caring for people with communication disabilities.”