Momentum gives a voice to those who cannot speak

Posted on November 12, 2015

The Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (CAAC), in conjunction with the Department of English (at UP) and the Department of Visual Communication (Photography) at Tshwane University of Technology, recently hosted an extraordinary event called ‘Words and beyond’.

‘Words and beyond’ was inspired by participants in CAAC’s annual Fofa course. Participants in this course are exceptional individuals with a difference: they are men and women with limited or no capacity for verbal speech. They utilise specialised equipment to help them communicate with the outside world by translating their thoughts into words.

Fofa is a Northern Sotho word that means ‘to fly’ and the participants in the course spread their wings soared to new heights.

Six Fofa participants shared their personal hopes and dreams by means of stories, poetry and photographs. Supported by their personal assistants and the phenomenal CAAC staff, participants gave those in attendance at ‘Words and beyond’ a unique glimpse into their lives. Guests were reminded of the fact that just because the participants do not communicate in the same way as mainstream society, they still have a lot to say.

Because of generous donor funding, Fofa participants and their personal assistants can be transported to CAAC from across South Africa to attend the two week course. During the course participants are trained in utilising assistive communicative devices. This year they also took part in poetry and photography classes, the products of which were presented at ‘Words and beyond’. Participants’ stories and images were moving and inspiring and served to remind guests that everyone has something of value to contribute to society, albeit in a way that may be unfamiliar to mainstream society.

CAAC wishes to acknowledge Momentum, one of the generous donors whose contribution made the ongoing, life-changing success of the Fofa course possible. Without this invaluable support the course participants would not have found their own voices and discover their creativity.

- Author Advancement: Fundraising

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