Students Learn to Communicate Without Speech

Working as a photographer often requires the use of body and sign language to help create rapport and communicate successfully. This is especially true when working with people who don’t speak the same language as us or with people with a disability. In both cases it is not sufficient to use only speech as a tool for communication.

In a workshop run by Erin Levesque from Milparinka, second year Advanced Diploma students learn what it feels like not be able to use speech to communicate. They followed this experience with exercises on how to use sign language and gesture to help overcome such communication barriers.

This workshop was part of a subject called: ‘Establish Photographer/Client Relations.’ In this subject students learn, through practice and theory, about how to successfully fulfill a brief. They do so by being paired with non-for-profit organisations in their community. This often requires students working with people with disability or people with English as their second language. There is also an emphasis on social documentary photography and the importance of empathy and communication in practicing as a social documentary photographer.

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Images L-R: Flo experiencing what it feels like to try and communicate with Bianca without using speech; Erin introducing the Makaton sign cards for students to communicate with each other; the different gestures and their meaning; Erin talking about how sign language relates to photography; Harrison, Laura and Justice performing a clap as used by the deaf population; Roland (teacher) presenting his sign language sentence; Harrison presenting his sentence.

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