NUI Galway’s Enactus society are seeking to create better communications between catering staff and people with communication impairments in Galway. The society, which aims to bring together people in the community, launched their ‘HearMe!’ initiative last year with the hope that their training programmes could better equip Galway establishments with the tools to communicate with customers with speech difficulties.
Aonaid Carr, a final year civil law student, is the auditor of the society and says that the training can aid café and restaurant workers immensely and can help servers feel more comfortable with their communication skills.
“Being trained to tackle these barriers shows that Galway cafés and restaurants care about their customers and the people in their community,” Aonaid said.
“So many people have speech impairments, be it from a simple stutter, a stroke or an intellectual disability, it’s vital that we don’t make anyone feel excluded in everyday activities, such as ordering food,” she added.
The idea behind HearMe! came from the thesis of a final year NUI Galway speech and language therapist. The training programmes are taught by speech and language therapy students along with a co-trainer who has a speech impairment. Anna Vaughan, an NUI Galway student and waitress who took the course said that hearing from the co-trainer really helped in the training.
“It put everything into perspective,” she said. “Just learning simple things like not looking to a person’s carer for their order or just telling someone that you don’t understand instead of being embarrassed really helps”.
“You just need to give some people time, let them write the order if they need to. It can be hard as a waitress in a rush but you would want someone to do it for you,” Aonaid said.
So far six Galway cafés have been HearMe certified in the 35 training programmes the society has ran, including 37 West, 56 Central and Ard Rí House as well as the university cafés. The course is also offered to students, with over 120 people in total being trained to date, including 50 students so far this semester. The programme has also been included in the manual HR training in both UHG and Roscommon University Hospital. Enactus NUIG has also trained 12 professional speech and language therapists to set up their own training programmes in Sligo and Cork.
Founded in 2011, Enactus is an international charitable organisation which enables third level students to create, and implement, social entrepreneurial projects which positively impact the community. Every year a national competition is held by Enactus Ireland in May and NUIG’s society were awarded a bursary for their work last year and are aiming to bring the prize home with the HearMe! scheme this year.
HearMe! is only one of three of the student’s current projects around Galway, the other two include drama classes with Ability West and an autism awareness programme with Galway secondary schools. The society, who are sponsored by KPMG, Arthur Cox and Bank of Ireland have a lot more planned for HearMe! and Aonaid said that the goal is to eventually “make anyone in Galway with speech impairments feel independent and more confident in every day activities”.
The training programme is available to students for just €20. See more on becoming HearMe! certified by contacting Enactus NUIG.
By Martha Brennan