In a world that can be so noisy, many are suffering a deafening silence. Interface KZN exists to help people find their voices and in so doing, bring a sense of clarity to lives previously defined by an unspoken confusion, writes Kelly Kidgell.
The passion and energy Trudi Louw has for the work Interface KZN does is both inspiring and heart-warming as we chat away over a cup of coffee. I reflect, with a hard-hitting realisation, that for many chatting is an absolute luxury.
Whilst we may take our speech for granted, thousands of people across KZN face the incredibly challenging reality of being unable to communicate. Through various projects and outreach programmes, Interface KZN’s mission is to aid children and adults in finding their voice by means of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC). Simply put, these are strategies used to compensate for limited or no speech – ranging from picture boards and gestures to high-tech speech-generating devices and computers.
With the expertise of their therapists, the Interface team treat a wide spectrum of patients. From those with Down’s syndrome or autism, to people who’ve suffered strokes or head injuries and lost their speech as a result.
The Interface AAC resource centre offers assessments, support, rehabilitation, training and therapy, their primary goal being to establish practical and sustainable means for patients to communicate.
“There’s no moment as special as when we reach that point of a non-communicative person finally finding some kind of voice – even if it’s just a nod to answer yes, something they could never do before,” beams Trudi.
Established in 1997, Interface KZN is a registered Non-Profit Organisation changing lives for countless “voiceless” people in and around our poorer communities.
Following a consultation with the Valley Trust in 2016, The Valley of 1000 Hills Outreach Project was initiated. It has been instrumental in providing much-needed AAC intervention and assistance to adults and children in this semi-rural area. Another successful project is the work Interface does with Action in Autism, an organisation based in Durban North: With a specific focus on autistic children, their high needs of support surrounding communication and social interactions are facilitated by AAC systems and strategies.
With established programmes at various low socio-economic areas such as Kwangolosi, Embo, Molweni and at the Philakade Carehome, decentralising the assistance Interface KZN offers is a cost-effective and practical means to providing therapy to those with non-functional speech.
What’s more, leaders in the communities are given the relevant training to become facilitators and to assist in the process of identifying potential patients, screening them, and then providing the appropriate treatment.
It is clear to me that aside from specialised therapies, Interface KZN provides so much more to previously isolated and voice-less people. They give hope. They bring friendship. They unlock painful silences. Having the recourses to give the gift of communication and to change countless lives comes primarily from word of mouth – a somewhat beautiful irony.
How Can You Help?
Interface relies entirely on public funding to continue with the hope, trust and connection to our world that they bring to patients who wouldn’t usually have access to such therapies. Should you wish to make a donation, you can: