Think of a time when you took on a new endeavor or set out to learn a new skill. Whatever situation comes to mind, there’s a good chance you would want to find out what others have done in order to find the best approach. Who wouldn’t want to find the most proven or effective way to learn something new? And even after learning the “how-to” behind any craft or skill, there’s always room for refinement to clarify a process and add to experience. And this is where best practices are born!
A best practice can be defined as a technique or methodology that has been found to be a proven and reliable way to achieve a desired outcome. Put simply, a best practice offers the most straightforward path to follow during an endeavor. In fact, industries and organizations, including healthcare and education use best practices to inform and guide the individuals supporting their causes and interests. There is an inherent value to best practices, though not easily recognized, especially when the focus is to reach a particular goal. So, what more can following a best practice offer?
BEST PRACTICE ADDRESSES CHALLENGES…
When traversing any learning curve, problems will inevitably creep up that require effective solutions. By definition best practices are proven solutions that can help address such obstacles. Whatever the endeavor, previous experiences have likely resulted in others finding the most effective way of mitigating challenging situations. Repeated experiences of success become the evidence and the foundation from which methodology and guidelines are created for decision making and implementation of a specific skill set or practice. In essence, an informed competence is developed when an individual follows a best practice. And by the way, who wouldn’t want a competent individual guiding the way?
BEST PRACTICE PROTECTS DIVERSE INTERESTS…
Standards protect the diverse interests of each and every individual involved in an endeavor. This is true even in financial institutions or the technology industry. The concept behind establishing a standard way of doing things is that if a method has been previously confirmed as effective, then there should be no need to try to ‘reinvent the wheel’ which takes up time, effort, and money. Not only does this help us avoid duplication efforts, it provides a set measure or bar for performance indicators. Specifically, benchmarks can help to measure progress as well as indicate when it’s time to progress to the next stage or level in a process. Standards protect those who are implementing procedures and methods as well as those who have a vested interest in the outcome or result.
BEST PRACTICE AFFECTS SOMETHING GREATER…
Beyond the individual lies a group, a company, an organization, or community where best practices can help everyone achieve solutions to shared problems and goals. At the heart of the “Spellerverse” is the nonspeaking community that we all are part of. We have all heard or experienced the challenges that exist for nonspeakers due to the traditional disability paradigms that dominate societies; and how an individual’s competency or ability is never presumed. As a practitioner, CRP, or ally we should always be working to dispel the myths about nonspeaking people by spreading neurodiversity whenever possible, including how we support communication. When a nonspeaker is spelling to communicate, especially in a public setting, they are at their most vulnerable because, unfortunately, the scrutiny of those who do not understand or acknowledge the sensory-motor perspective is ever present. And so it is the adherence to a best practice that protects the individual and even the greater community by dispelling myths and thereby furthering the movement.
Outside of a company or organization, best practices can be slow to spread. Barriers to best practice include, lack of knowledge, resistance to changing habits, or the lack of skills to do so. However, making the decision to follow a method or process that is informed by a best practice is up to each and every one of us. And this includes a commitment to informing oneself about neurodiversity, including sensory-movement differences, as well as the standards behind spelling to communicate. When supporting a nonspeaker’s communication we must be willing to commit to seeking out ongoing education opportunities and guidance. A commitment to best practice is a commitment not only to the individual speller that you support, but to all nonspeakers. Every one of us has an important part to play and a way to contribute and if for any one reason to follow best practices, this would be it!
Debbie Spengler, MS, S2C Practitioner and I-ASC Leadership Cadre from Southern California.