NoVoiceWeek! SLT students Giving Voice for AAC Awareness


The easiest way to follow the campaign events as they unfold this week is via the Twitter hashtag #novoiceweek.

Or perhaps even easier, on the Symplur Healthcare Hashtags Project, bookmark this page: #nospeechweek Healthcare Hashtag  and see the “live stream” midway down the page on the right.

While SLT (Speech and Language Therapy) services are working flat-out and fighting cuts at the same time, the RCSLT‘s new-style Facebook  Student Groups Network has mobilised in support of the Giving Voice UK campaign.

It started in late January with a call for ideas for a UK-wide student event:

“We’d really like to use the network to organise a national student event with the aim of raising awareness of the profession and the giving voice campaign. It’d be brilliant if we could all work together to create an event that we can all be involved with together!”  30 Jan 2013

By early March a “No Voice Week” had been agreed for 22 – 26 April.

” . . the idea for a ‘No Voice Week’ is the most popular, this will involve finding an alternative way to communicate at some point over the week, perhaps when ordering in a restaurant or getting on the bus! We’d love as many students as possible to get involved and take pictures, write reflections of their experiences etc.”  5 March 2013

In the meantime, student groups had taken the initiative to plan and act throughout February. By March 2nd, De Montfort University students had made and uploaded their clever “Giving Voice The Movie” video with its original song soundtrack.

On March 6th, Newcastle University SLT Students were able  to make, edit and upload their “Giving Voice Harlem Shake” video to YouTube all in one day!  This one has got to be seen to be believed, as are the riot of inventive copy-cat videos from other Universities that followed soon afterwards.

A month later, on April 6th, Birmingham University SLT students created their wonderful song and dance Flash Mob video in Chamberlain Square.  This was another stunning performance and production with an original song and soundtrack.  This video seems to embody all the talent, creativity and enthusiasm of the current SLT student population.  So very social-media savvy too.  Dedicated “Tweeters” worked away for hours on end to achieve a phenomenal number of retweets, resulting over 3,000 views of their video in less than three weeks!

These videos, along with all the others that I could find featuring recent SLT Student Giving Voice Flash Mobs, Songs and “stunts”, are included in the YouTube Playlist embedded in this page.  The playlist is “dynamic” so will grow as new videos are added on YouTube.

There are other types of inspirational videos too, showing SLT students preparing for No Voice Week or engaged in related campaigning events.  Newcastle University SLT students have blown everyone away with their achievements over the last few weeks on the AAC Awareness theme. I hope I am not showing favouritism to my fellow “toon” dwellers here – interest declared.

In March, they raised over £1,000 with a “sponsored silence” for NETA (North East Trust for Aphasia).  Along the way, learning more than they would otherwise about AAC and raising awareness of AAC around the campus and in the city.  I find it quite touching that they made their video about the NETA Sponsored Silence as a “thank you” to everyone who helped and supported them.

Some of the SLT Student groups have been playing their cards close to their chests and clearly have some surprises in store for this week.  The Newcastle University SLT students might also have some cards hidden up their sleeves but have been beavering away curating, creating and sharing AAC resources on their DVoiced Facebook Page.   They have been active on Twitter too,  @DVoiced quickly amassing a healthy flock of “friends” and “followers”.

It is very understandable to me, as an infrequent blogger, that their aacawareness blog has much less content than their Facebook Page.  It is a bit of a faff “joining up” all the links between blog, Facebook and Twitter, so that wherever one lands there are clear paths to other virtual presences.  It also takes longer to build up a “blog following” and, even then, interaction prompted by blog posts is often “off-site”, on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

The short timescale of their awareness raising project,  with the need to engage as widely as possible, favour the “quick and dirty” set-up strategy of “microblogging” in the most familiar and popular social media arenas.

Which provides a nice link to the elegant blogging and tidy cross-platform integration of Julie Giving Voice, the Newcastle SLT students’ contributing some very effective “guest blogging”.

Julie Carr’s blog chronicles a general build-up of Giving Voice UK campaign momentum over the last few months.  In “Giving Voice Harlem Shake…Newcastle“, her post on behalf of the “Dvoiced” Newcastle University SLT students, guest blogger Poppy Welsh explains how they were inspired to embark on their Giving Voice UK projects this spring:

“In February 2013 we had an inspirational talk from RCSLT about applying for jobs and encouraging us to participate in the Giving Voice campaign. We were inspired by the success students at other universities had experienced for the campaign – most of all Queen Margaret University  who have achieved an impressive 10,000+ views for their Call Me Maybe parody using AAC – and wanted to organise something ourselves!”

I always find the enthusiasm and energy of SLT students uplifting and, with my background in AAC, their current campaign makes my heart glow.  “Dvoiced” have discovered and shared a wonderful selection of AAC resources in a very short time.

I have also discovered that the population of UK #slpeeps on Twitter, particularly #slt2b (Student SLTs) “professional tweeters”, has boomed over the last twelve months!   RCSLT should be deservedly pleased with the outcome of their campaign to engage SLTs with social media.  Just six months ago most of the #slt2b accounts seemed to be “private” with very few, if any, tweets to their names.  This increased engagement spreads the influence of #novoiceweek on AAC Awareness well beyond local activities and events planned across the UK.

Here is a YouTube playlist showing some recent Giving Voice Songs, Flash Mobs and “stunts” – the playlist will be updated as more videos are added to YouTube:

Playlist: Giving Voice Songs, Stunts, Flash Mobs, etc.
Watch this playlist on YouTube

This link is to an rss feed for the playlist, new additions will be added automatically to the top of the list: YouTube Playlist rss

This is not the first time that Speech and Language Therapy students have been active supporters of the Giving Voice UK campaign.  However, this well-planned and spirited campaign comes at a time when SLT services are more hard-pressed than ever and will surely do much to boost morale across the whole profession.

For my part, I had already planned another little outing for my “Giving Voice Song” this week, at the Bar Loco Open Stage on Tuesday night.  Julie Carr is coming along to do the “Giving Voice” talk.  Members of the “Left Hand Stairs Ukulele Group“, who meet in the Bar Loco gallery, are invited to join in and I have a cunning plan to encourage some audience participation.  Not forgetting, I have information about local #novoiceweek AAC Awareness events to pass on so I can do my little bit of publicity for the cause!

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