“Telepractice is a thing in my profession – but I can’t believe that I never considered incorporating it into my own work before the Covid Rāhui. Sure, we occasionally would video chat with our international volunteer Julian and with a few of our siblings, but never like this.
Yet it has been so fun, effective and empowering.
The technology evened the playing field – gestures, sign and writing were now as powerful as talking. For example, Phillip signed “b” to tell me to ask Brian a question. Jessica’s thumbs up signs and facial expressions were so easy for everyone to see. Abi and Melissa have nearly mastered sharing their screen to write down words when we don’t quite catch what they said. I must say that the Thumbs Up adults learned Zoom etiquette faster than most of the adults in my life!
Staff noticed that they were slowing down and leaving longer pauses. It was easier to find space for the adults to join the conversation. There was also the option to be joyous and loud while using the mute button to help others who are sensitive to loud noises (but still while seeing our joy on our faces. I loved the laughter, the independence and the connection.
I also liked that while the rest of the world was complaining about “Zoom fatigue” (for some it was their first experience with effort that communication requires for many of us), the adults were thriving, contributing and even hosting!
Here are some comments from some of the Thumbs Up adults about Zoom sessions:
- Brian said that he loved getting to stay connected with everyone
- “Loved seeing everyone’s faces”
- Melissa loved hosting
- Abi wants to keep learning how to use technology
The skills that we have been using will serve us well in the future – for staying connected with people we love, for learning and for volunteering and work opportunities. I can see these skills letting the adults attend virtual doctor’s appointments and “check out” new places before visiting to make sure they are accessible or simply “not scary”. I can imagine an evening ‘night’ class that people can Zoom in to learn sign language or other topics.
I am so proud of the adults, staff and the entire team. Huge clap for all the families who bravely ventured into new tech support roles when we were all still in our bubbles.”
Melissa hosting a Zoom session and her reflection afterwards