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South Island

South Island ManagerBarrieweb

My involvement with assistive technology began in the 1980s working on the development of environmental control systems for people with spinal cord injuries.  Coming from a background in industrial automation, it was exciting to see how technology could be applied to assist people with disabilities and this soon became a passion for me.

As assistive technology moved from custom built and modified devices to commercial off-the-shelf solutions, the need for formalised assessment became apparent.  This led to the establishment initially of the Southern Technology Assessment and Resource Team (START) which later became the Burwood Assistive Technology Centre where my role was rehabilitation engineer.

During my time with the Burwood Assistive Technology Centre I broadened my engineering qualifications by completing a Postgraduate Diploma in Rehabilitation though Otago University.  I also became very familiar with the processes and requirements for securing funding for equipment through ACC and Enable Funding.  Through these years I had the privilege of working not only with a fascinating range of new technologies as they developed, but also with many remarkable people as they embarked on their rehabilitation journeys.

Some people will know me through other related roles, either as a founding member of the New Zealand Spinal Trust or as Chairperson of the Computers for Special Needs Trust and I keep an active interest in both these organisations.

In 2009 I took up a new position as Team Leader – Bioengineering at Christchurch Hospital, where I managed a small group of biomedical engineers and technicians.  This was interesting work developing innovative high technology solutions for specialised needs in the Canterbury health system.  Alongside this I continued my interest in assistive technology, though with the focus moved to hospital inpatients.

When the position of South Island Regional Manager with TalkLink became available I saw an opportunity to not only use my team leadership experience, but also to return to hands-on work with assistive technology.  Alongside my management role I expect to be supporting the South Island team with technical and engineering expertise.  But most of all my desire is to see our clients achieve fulfilment in their lives through the use of assistive technology.


Devon Millar


Speech-Language Therapist

Paula Daniels

I am a speech-language therapist who first worked for TalkLink in Auckland from 1999 until 2002 where I specialized in assessing clients communication needs and providing high and low technology communication systems. This also involved completing funding applications for equipment and providing training and support for their use when required. While at TalkLink I furthered my experience working with children with communication needs by working part time at Carlson School for Cerebral Palsy.

Prior to joining TalkLink I had worked for 5 years with adults with communication difficulties in hospital, community and rehabilitation settings both in New Zealand and the Uk.

After I left TalkLink in 2002 I moved to Dunedin and then Christchurch with my family. During this time I have worked part time in paediatric settings: Group Special Education in Otago where my caseload was children with very high needs and, Astech in Christchurch where we provided SLT services for children funded mainly through ACC. Most recently I have worked part time at the University of Canterbury as a clinical supervisior for SLT students and provided some lectures for relevant SLT courses.

I am very excited to join TalkLink in Christchurch as a speech language therapist to extend the great service TalkLink has provided in the North Island

Occupational TherapistSimon Cooper

I am an Occupational Therapist who joined the TalkLink team in Christchurch early in 2010. Originally from the UK I qualified in 2001 and have had the pleasure of working mainly with adults and teenager with a range of physical health, mental health and learning difficulties. I initially worked in a Learning disability trust before specialising in neurological rehabilitation. Following this I left the UK in 2007 due to itchy feet, desire to travel and eventually settled in Christchurch.

Assistive Technology has always been of special interest to me. Working for TalkLink allows me to draw on my previous clinical knowledge and develop my skills in this area. With the ever advancing technological age, Assistive Technology continues to maximise the potential of the clients in meeting their goals.

Speech-Language TherapistMichelleKingweb13,09,13

Early in my Speech-Language Therapy career, I specialized in therapy service provision for ORS/ORRS funded students age 5-21. The students I have worked with have a wide range of communication abilities. Many have complex communication needs and use a variety of communication systems including assistive technology and/or other forms of AAC.

I value working as part of a cohesive, innovative, therapy team, and enjoy working with families, whanau, educators, support staff, and supporting agencies to facilitate meaningful outcomes to shared goals. I employ a strength-based approach to service delivery with a particular focus on facilitating opportunity, participation and enjoyment across environments.

I am incredibly enthusiastic about joining the Talk Link team. Having written many referrals for technology assessment, and having participated in assessments and device trials, I have experienced firsthand how finding the right device can help communication partners see capabilities and raise expectations of individuals with complex communication needs. I have also seen new technology users realize potential beyond even their own expectations. I am very passionate about continuing to help people to exercise their basic human right to communicate meaningfully with others.

Speech-Language TherapistPariya Behnami

Pariya is currently on parential leave.

Prior to joining the TalkLink team in December 2009, I worked as a Speech Language Therapist in an acute hospital setting with clients with a wide variety of neurological and physical disabilities, focusing on assessment and management of their communication and swallowing difficulties. Additionally, I have experience in outpatient rehabilitation with clients in the post-acute phase. I have also completed a BA in Psychology before training as a Speech Language Therapist.

I have had a keen interest in Assistive and Augmentative Communication since university and this has been further strengthened by my experiences with clients on the acute wards. I am particularly interested in the psychological impact of having a disability.

I am looking forward to developing my skills in this specialist area and assisting clients and their whanau in enhancing their communication access. I look forward to working with you.

Anita-WebOct2014Speech-Language Therapist

For the past 6 ½ years as a speech language therapist I have had experience working adults with intellectual disabilities and their support teams with low and high tech strategies for communication, I have worked in a special school with ORRS funded students age 5-21, with ORRS funded students in mainstream classrooms and with teenagers in a special unit at a high school. I have also led regular communication groups for people recovering from strokes.

Prior to completing my SLT training at the University of Canterbury I was fortunate to have a wide range of caregiving experience, with adults with intellectual disability, children with disabilities, and elderly people with a variety of neurological conditions including Parkinson’s Disease, Dementia and Stroke. This gives me a good understanding of some of the practical issues facing clients, families and caregivers.

In recent times I have enjoyed working alongside the South Island Talklink team, with several shared clients, learning a lot about assistive technology from this very knowledgeable group. I look forward to continuing to learn more and to using my own knowledge and experience to assist people with communication difficulties to gain the supports for communication which will best suit their needs.

Speech-Language TherapistJackie Hancock

For the majority of my 15 year career as a speech language therapist, I have worked in the community assisting individuals with communication difficulties to reach their full communication potential.

More recently, I have worked at the Canterbury District Health Board with adults (16 years+) with communication and swallowing difficulties as a result of neurological impairment including; stroke, head injury, Parkinson’s disease and motor neurone disease.

A considerable part of my early career involved working with adults with an intellectual disability – this was both challenging and rewarding and sparked my initial interest in assistive and augmentative communication.

I have also had the opportunity to work with pre-school and school-aged children with delayed speech and language development in private practice.

I have a particular interest in supporting people with disabilities to become fully participating members of society through positive and meaningful interactions with others.

Joining the growing Talklink team in November 2011, I look forward to continuing to assist individuals to become effective and successful communicators, by providing assistive and augmentative communication support.

Office Administrator and Trainer

Margaret Cuttance

I have 15 years of experience working with students who engage with the world using a range of technology. I began working as a teacher’s aide, as part of a highly skilled teaching team, to support and address the learning needs of

High and Very High needs students in a special school environment. During this time I began to develop a keen interest in technology and the beneficial impact it often had on the learning and communication of the students I worked with. In 2000, I extended my teacher aide role and put my experience and knowledge of technology to work as the resource and technology support person and therapy assistant at Ferndale Special School and Resource Centre. I Joined the TalkLink South team in November, 2009 as an admin person. I have recently began extending this role to encompass making of resources, as well as programming and troubleshooting of devices, training clients and support people around use of their technology, and general support to the other team members here in the South Island.

SONY DSCTechnical Support

I joined the TalkLink South Island team in late 2012. I am currently studying towards a Bachelor of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Canterbury.

In addition to working part time at TalkLink, I also work part time as the National Manager of Cleft New Zealand to provide support to all those affected by cleft lip and palate, a role which I also thoroughly enjoy.

My background is in radio, computing and IT systems, and my future ambitions lie in the field of Speech-Language Therapy, therefore TalkLink is a perfect fit for me.

I am a firm believer that everyone has a right to access communication, and TalkLink is devoted to making this happen, no matter how difficult the challenges and barriers may appear to be. I thoroughly enjoy working alongside the entire TalkLink team, as well as our clients, to problem solve and develop solutions, and I enjoy working in a dynamic and friendly environment where no two days are the same.


Occupational Therapist

After gaining a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Marketing and Management ( 2008),  I worked in the private sector gaining valuable experience and skills in people management.

It was in 2012 that I graduated from Otago with a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy and have worked since then in a rotational position in the public health system, covering acute wards, rehabilitation and the community.

My interest lies in neurological conditions and their impact on people’s ability to function in daily tasks. I was drawn to this area of OT when I had experience with people who struggled to communicate and control their environment.  I believe the ability to communicate is a core part of gaining and maintaining independence, so I’m excited to join Talklink and specialise in an area that uses technology to potentially change people’s lives for the better.

Speech Language Therapist

I joined the TalkLink team in March 2015 and prior to this I worked as a speech language therapist at van Asch Deaf Education Centre. I had the opportunity to work with deaf pre-school and school aged children, their whanau and educators, to support language development and meaningful communication. I supported students receiving ORS funding, both in mainstream classrooms and special units within schools.

During my time studying speech and language therapy at the University of Canterbury, I worked with IDEA services as a home support worker and enjoyed supporting my client as they participated in community groups and social activities.

I am excited to have joined the TalkLink team and look forward to growing my knowledge and skills in this specialist area. I am passionate about working with adults and children to promote and enable communication, through working alongside them and their whanau.

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