“Communication is key!” is the third module developed for young people who wish to become DARE Ambassadors, to empower their peers and especially young PwVHPI (people with visual, hearing or physical impairment) to participate more in youth exchanges and other activities.
This module aims to increase the communication skills of potential DARE Ambassadors to be able to effectively engage young PwVHPI and support them in finding the right opportunity to take part in a local or international youth activity.
This module includes the following topics:
- Inclusive communication
- Coaching skills for young DARE Ambassadors
- Engaging with families
By the end of this module, you will learn:
- what inclusive communication is and why it is important;
- what coaching is and how developing coaching skills can help you in your role as DARE Ambassador;
- how to successfully engage with young PwVHPI’s families, friends and relatives and why their role is crucial in the path to inclusive mobilities for all.
1. Inclusive communication
Inclusive communication means sharing information in a way that everybody can understand (Scottish Government, Principle of Inclusive Communication: An information and self-assessment tool for public authorities, 2011): by using it, we recognise that not everyone expresses themselves in the same ways and it allows a safe space for everyone to express themselves in ways that meet their own needs. Inclusive communication relates to any form of communication: in person, online, written and telephone. It’s one of the many ways to make the world a more inclusive and accessible place for everyone.
Building communication skills that are specific to different types of disabilities is very important. As a DARE Ambassador, you need to be able to adapt your communication skills and the messages you want to deliver so that anyone can understand you, regardless of their impairment. And remember: when in doubt, always ask your interlocutor if they understood everything. Please refer to this module’s additional resources to find out effective ways to communicate with young PwVHPI.
2. Coaching skills for young DARE Ambassadors
Peer coaching is important to ensure young PwVHPI will have a successful experience and that the learning impact will go beyond their mobility, inspiring them, for example, to volunteer in their community.
Coaching is a form of personal development through which an experienced person, or coach, supports a learner in achieving a specific goal by providing training and guidance; it’s often used in a work setting (Coaching, 2020). Occasionally, and in our case, coaching identifies an informal relationship between two young people, where the one with more experience in a certain sector or topic – such as youth exchanges and inclusive activities - instructs and offers guidance to the other.
Your key objective as a peer coach in the youth sector is to involve as many young people as possible (with or without impairments) in local or international inclusive youth activities. As a peer coach, you would need to help your peers to:
- Build confidence
Inclusion and accessibility are not always considered when organising a youth activity. This can result in young PwVHPI feeling left out, which can affect their self-esteem and confidence in their own skills and abilities to be part of such activities. As a peer coach, your role is fundamental: you can present examples on how to overcome barriers based on your own experience or experiences you have witnessed yourself, you can share links, websites and other resources for your peers to read by themselves, support them in asking for any information they might need. By witnessing firsthand how easy it can be sometimes to overcome different types of barriers (i.e. communication, psychological, physical) and to be involved in inclusive activities, young PwVHPI’s confidence and their motivation to participate in youth exchanges will increase. Remember to make them feel welcome and involved by using inclusive communication and accessible resources and/or learning materials.
- Set and achieve goals
Remember to take one step at a time. It might be useful, in this case, to keep a journal for each one of your peers you might want to support and involve in youth activities. Set smaller goals and make sure to achieve each of them to secure young PwVHPI’s participation. It’s important to understand that you cannot use the same methodology for everyone: each person has different needs, even when they have the same disability or come from similar backgrounds. It is possible for young people with a mobility impairment to have the same kind of needs; however, to be sure of it, you should not be afraid to ask questions in a respectful, but assertive way. This is necessary to address all of their concerns and to respond accordingly, in order to show them that inclusive youth exchanges with accessible activities exist, and that they might change the participants’ lives for the better!
- Keeping a direct line of communication
It’s not easy to discuss topics such as disability and barriers. In order for you and your peers to be at ease, consider the following advice (Keeping an Open Line of Communication with Your Employees, Adapted):
- Have an open door policy: welcome your peers to come to you for questions, support and problem solving.
- Encourage feedback: ask for feedback regularly, in order to make sure everything is clear.
- Find out what works best for your peers: some might prefer to communicate online, others in person; some may want to hear from you every day, others on a weekly basis.
- Make sure your peers know your conversations are confidential: your peers need to feel safe and comfortable about talking to you about their needs and concerns; this step is crucial in fostering a relationship of honesty and trust.
- Be direct: don’t try to sugarcoat things if you have to deliver some bad news, but be honest. Be assertive (confident, decisive) rather than condescending (arrogant, patronising).
- In order for your peers to trust you, it’s fundamental to be straightforward! If an obstacle suddenly arises, work with your peers to find a solution before you let it stop you or change your plans!
3. Engaging with families
Families play a big role in helping their children to be confident and enthusiastic participants in every activity – be it school or a youth mobility. That is why parental engagement is fundamental. In the context of families of youth with disabilities, parental engagement can support you in identifying the participant’s strengths and fears, prioritising goals and solving issues collaboratively, ensuring that the participant has the best possible opportunity for engaged learning. Be prepared to learn from and with parents, but remember: your primary focus must be the young PwVHPI. If you’re in a meeting and you have a question regarding the young PwVHPI, ask them directly. Parents can give you advice, but the needs and interests you need to care about are the ones expressed by the young participant!
Here are some steps you need to take into account to make sure you have built an effective communication strategy to keep parents involved:
- Schedule a time to talk: this will make the parents understand you are willing to put time and effort into involving their kids in your activities and that you respect their other commitments (jobs, other children, etc.).
- Avoid making assumptions about how each parent might want to get involved: some parents might want to be updated more often than others, or have more questions. Some parents might be used to their children travelling alone and therefore know how assistance on trains or planes works, for others it might be the first time. Be prepared to answer their questions and address all their concerns.
- Listen to what parents have to say and remain open-minded: you must be willing to enter a conversation with a non-judgmental mindset. What parents will tell you about their children might surprise you, help you and guide you in the design of the activity.
- Don’t be patronising! If necessary, provide resources for parents to find out more information and, in case they need any additional support, point them in the right direction.
- Leave your contacts (email, phone number, etc.): parents might want to contact you again before the youth activity starts, during it or even after it has ended. It’s important that you remain available to answer any questions or ease doubts that may arise.
Families (and friends!) are your closest ally: try your best to make them feel as such!
|Module Title||“Communication is key!”|
|Activity Title||Preparation of a detailed plan for the smooth organisation of an info day for youth|
|Duration of the Activity (in hours)||Preparation: 10 hours|
|Type of resource||Activity Sheet|
|Aim of activity||Developing an organisation plan for an info day for your peers or a similar event can improve your planning, organisation, collaborative and communication skills.
It can show you what works and what doesn’t when trying to effectively engage and activate young people as well as their families.
|Materials Required for Activity||Computer, planning software (an Excel for example), paper chart, pens, markers, checklist (attached).|
|Step-by-step instructions||Step 1: Checking feasibility
Before you even start to organise your meeting or event, it’s worthwhile checking that this is actually what you need to do and that it’s realistic for your budget etc. It’s also important to identify who can help you – ideally you’ll have a team of people with different strengths (logistics, publicity, artwork/graphics, content creation etc.). If you’re the sole organiser, use experienced people to check your initial ideas and make sure you’re on the right track.
Step 2: Discussion in a team
Together with your organising team, discuss the following questions:
Step 3: Drafting an action plan
Write up an action plan with allocated tasks and organise one person to check periodically that things are on schedule. For a big meeting or event, you may need to draw up an indicative budget. Even for a smaller event, it’s important to check you have enough money for venue hire or the technical equipment, alternatively you may think of catering as well. On the income side of the budget, consider whether:
Step 4: Cost assessment
Think about whether any of the following expenses will apply:
Step 5: Invitations – who to invite and how
For a ‘start-up’ meeting or public meeting, invite everyone who has shown an interest and publicise it widely so everyone has a chance to get involved. Use a range of publicity options, such as school newsletters, posters on notice boards and shop windows, free papers, local radio. Send a copy of the programme and a press release to the local papers. When advertising, keep in mind the objective and target audience – let the audience know what they will get out of attending.
Step 6: Venue organisation
Check out the venue in person or get someone you trust to do it. Consider:
Size – enough room for everyone together, plus space for break-out groups.
Suitability of furniture and facilities – number of chairs and tables, comfort, equipment availability, location of power points, parking, access for disabled.
Location – travel times, transport to venue. Is it near your project? Easy to find?
Lighting/blackout for slides and overheads, heating and fresh air.
Acoustics and background noise levels from the street or other meeting rooms.
Access to refreshment facilities and toilets.
Space for displays and other information.
Occupational, safety and health hazards – undertake a site inspection prior to the event.
Accommodation if required – at a standard and price that suits the audience.
Step 7: Setting a date and time
For a meeting or small event, try to give people two weeks’ advance notice. For more significant events, such as an all-day event with active participation workshops for example, you may want to give a month’s notice and request a confirmation of an invitation. Follow this up 3–5 days before the event with a phone around or further general publicity.
Consider organising a ‘telephone tree’ to share the load or focus on people you think are critical to the success of your project. Sending out personally addressed invitations works well. Make sure you include a map if directions are required and list clothing needs for events outdoors or field trips.
Hold the meeting or event at a convenient time for everyone. Consider school hours, and the time of the year (avoid days around holidays or periods in which harvest or grape harvest is taking place, if your organisation works in rural area!) Avoid clashes with other events or major projects.
Consider how long you need to achieve your purpose and how far people might have to travel. If a half-day is suitable, start after lunch time, or hold the event in the morning and finish with lunch.
Step 8: Organising equipment and materials
Always make sure your material is accessible.
Identify the equipment that you, the facilitator, presenter(s) and caterers may need. Make up a kit/bag to take to meetings and events with any materials you might need.
Step 9: Organising the “D” day.
Get to the venue at least one hour before the event starts. Put out signs to direct people. For a meeting:
Step 10: Refreshments (optional)
A meeting or event is usually only as good as its food – in fact you’ll often use this as a draw card to get people there, so make it the best you can!
Step 11: Choosing presenters, chairperson and/or facilitators
Consider who should facilitate or chair the meeting or event – ideally someone with local respect, an understanding of the issue and experience in facilitation. A guest speaker could also be a good idea. Try to engage speakers who can relate to youth – be it young people, volunteers, youth workers or local Eurodesk representatives (for example), or maybe even a municipality official responsible for the youth sector. Your speakers need to be able to engage with the audience in an effective way!
If a formal presentation is planned, organise a practice run and offer feedback on length, language, etc.
Make sure you brief everyone with a formal meeting or event role. It’s important for them to understand the time they have available, the purpose of the meeting/event, how their role/presentation fits with this, and to be aware of any technical matters such as how to work equipment, location of lighting, etc. It’s also important that people understand the role of the facilitator.
Agenda and process
Working out how your meeting or event will run is a critical step in your preparation.
Purpose and results
When planning your meeting or event, be clear what you want to achieve by the end of it. This will help identify your key messages, meeting or event purpose and key topics for the agenda.
Designing the experience
As well as the outcomes or issues you want to resolve, consider what type of experience you want people to have. Are you aiming for fun, joint decision making, cultural exchange, sharing knowledge on a topic, debate, learning skills, or a celebration of people’s contributions and achievements? Consider appropriate ritual or ceremony, such as song or performance, plaques or certificates. Use an element of humour or entertainment where appropriate.
Allowing for introductions
Welcomes and introductions are important to help people to get oriented and feel at ease. Sometimes it will be appropriate to begin your meeting or event with a formal speech or an introduction in form of a testimonial by a former participant for example – take guidance from someone familiar with the cultural setting and people you will be working with. For meetings, workshops and seminars, introduce the organisers, speakers, the facilitator or chairperson at the beginning. Where time allows, ask all participants to introduce themselves, especially where people will work together later on (for example, at a workshop). Consider using a round for introductions or an ‘icebreaker’.
Remember to invite people to leave their name, address, and phone number (send around an attendance list) and to ask for the names of those who couldn’t come but want to be kept in contact.
For public events, consider having:
People at the entrance to welcome visitors, hand out an information package, or gather registrations.
A notice board with ‘Welcome’ and critical information posted underneath, such as the schedule, location of displays, toilets, refreshments, etc.
Creating an inclusive process
Everyone should be able to contribute constructively to the discussion and activities. This means a minimum of ‘talking at’ and a maximum of ‘talking with’ participants:
Use inclusive activities or methods to run the meeting or event.
Encourage participation when facilitating.
Provide time for feedback at critical points in the meeting or event and at the end.
Tempo and timing
To keep energy levels high, think about the order and length of activities:
§ Allow sufficient time for breaks and social time/networking, particularly for long meetings.
§ Don’t try to do too much or fit in too many speakers.
§ Plan something active or interesting after lunch/coffee break.
§ Have a mix of full group sessions and small group discussion.
Provide a range of activities for different learning styles – some visual, aural, and movement-based activities. For meetings, consider how long people are sitting down – the average concentration span is about 20 minutes for any one topic. Don’t sit for more than an hour at a time. For field days, consider how long people will be able to stand in one place and how long it will take to move between sites.
Q&A and Planning your evaluation
Reserve a good slot of the event for a Q&A session (at least 30 minutes).
Consider how you will evaluate your meeting or event when you’re designing it. Be specific about exactly what you want to review or evaluate as this will help you decide the best way to go about it.
Acknowledge all contributions on the day with public and personal thanks, including participants as well as the people who made it possible, such as caterers.
Send thank you notes to speakers, hosts, helpers, sponsors etc.
Travel reimbursements, if possible, can be helpful for those who travel a long way.
Make sure association/organisation staff don’t outnumber locals at the meeting/event and keep paper to a minimum – both can be intimidating to those looking to get involved. Structure the meeting or event so your organisation is a part of the group rather than always in charge. Invite feedback on your ideas or alternative options. Consider what the local people are getting out of attending, not just your own needs. Think partnership!
The text was based on an online source and adapted for the purposes of the DARE project. On the same source you can access further information like the checklists to follow when organising an info day or get further ideas on group involvement techniques.
|Module Title||Communication is key!|
|Activity Title||Peer Coach Journal|
|Duration of the Activity (in hours)||3 hours|
|Type of resource||Activity Sheet|
|Aim of activity||The journal could prove to be an excellent record of your thoughts, reflections, achievements. The journal is an invaluable tool for personal development, enabling the peer supporter/ambassador and the youngster to record their thoughts and reflections throughout the experience if they choose to do so. The journal of activity will help you plan and structure peer support sessions or activities in order to follow the objectives defined at the beginning of the peer support path.
Having a journal will help you keep everything in order and assess improvements made with each individual peer you are motivating to join a youth activity (locally or internationally).
|Materials Required for Activity||Notebook, pen, colored pencils, stickers.|
|Step-by-step instructions||Step 1: Consider at least 3 pages per person
Step 2: Design a general outline (example: name, contacts, objectives, interests, notes)
Step 3: Fill in the boxes after meeting each person to define their goals, aspirations and personal interests.
Step 4: Remember to underline their specific needs in order to address them in the process.
Step 5: Please refer to the additional learning resource no. R3.5 to find out more about a personal journal.
|Module Title:||Communication is key!|
|Title of Resource:||Inclusive communication: Checklist|
|Introduction to the resource:||A YouTube video providing tips for inclusive communication in the form of a checklist.|
|What will you get from using this resource?||This short animation recaps the key principles to remember when delivering accessible communications.|
|Link to resource:||Inclusive communications – Checklist|
|Module Title:||Communication is key!|
|Title of Resource:||5 Tips to Make Assertive Communication Easier and More Effective|
|Introduction to the resource:||A YouTube video about assertive communication.|
|What will you get from using this resource?||Assertive communication allows us to express our needs while actually improving our relationships with others. It’s a win/win.|
|Link to resource:||5 Tips to Make Assertive Communication Easier and More Effective|
|Module Title:||Communication is key!|
|Title of Resource:||How to communicate with a deaf person? – 14 simple
& actionable tips to overcome communication barriers
|Introduction to the resource:||A collection of basic and easy-to-follow tips on how to
interact with a deaf person. The resource includes
videos (including one about lip reading) and
interesting articles on the matter.
|What will you get from using this resource?||You will learn how to communicate with Deaf people in an inclusive way.|
|Link to resource:||HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH A DEAF PERSON? – 14 SIMPLE & ACTIONABLE TIPS TO OVERCOME COMMUNICATION BARRIERS|
|Module Title:||Communication is key!|
|Title of Resource:||Communicating effectively – Vision Australia|
|Introduction to the resource:||A list of tips on how to interact with a blind or partially sighted person, in order to effectively communicate with them.|
|What will you get from using this resource?||You will learn how to communicate with blind people in an inclusive and effective way.|
|Link to resource:||Communicating effectively|
|Module Title:||Communication is key!|
|Title of Resource:||2020 Bullet Journal Setup|
|Introduction to the resource:||A YouTube video showing how to set up a journal.|
|What will you get from using this resource?||This video will help you visualise a good setup for a journal, you can easily adapt to your needs and objectives and those of the peers you are coaching.|
|Link to resource:||My 2020 Bullet Journal Setup|
For finding out the definition of certain terms with which you may not be familiarised, please read the DARE Practical Guide for Inclusion, the first output DARE project partners developed.
DARE Project (2020). DARE Practical Guide for Inclusion [Online] Accessed 23 th June 2020.
Kreisau-Initiative e.V. (2017). Perspective: Inclusion. Language and communication in international inclusive education. Methods, guidelines, impulses. [Online] Accessed 23th June 2020.
Pam Robbins (1991). How to Plan and Implement a Peer Coaching Program [Online] Accessed 17th June 2020.
Shana Montesol Johnson (2011). 10 Tips to Get Started with Peer Coaching [Online] Accessed 19th June 2020.
Peoplekeep.com (2014), Keeping an Open Line of Communication with Your Employees [Online] Accessed 16th December 2020.
Scottish Government (2011), Principles of Inclusive Communication: An information and self-assessment tool for public authorities [Online] Accessed 16th June 2020.
Wikipedia.com (2020), Coaching [Online] Accessed 16th December 2020.