What is Communication Support?

Being able to communication is a fundamental human right.

However, the freedom to express this right and the access to information can be made difficult for many people living with disabilities.

At OC Connections we believe that communication that focuses on promoting respectful and fulfilling interactions is the cornerstone to the provision of truly person-centred support.

Communication support begins with the process of understanding an individual’s communication needs. People with Complex Communication Support Needs (CCSN) often require additional strategies and/or specialised resources to support their expression or reception of information. In order to understand a person’s communication needs a communication assessment is often required. These assessments are best completed by professionals. Once the assessment and report has been completed the support team can work together to identify the priority communication needs of an individual. This may include providing aids to assist a person to know what is happening in their day, remember events, or provide a consistent method of communication across different areas of the person's life. 

Good communication and what it looks like varies for each person.

What good communication support can look like?

  • Respectful: recognising that people with communication disability have contributions to make.
  • Responsive: recognise a person’s communication attempts & Respond to these appropriately.
  • Reciprocal: provide ample opportunities for people with Complex Communication Support Needs to contribute. Take the time to get to know the person.
  • Persistent: troubleshoot communication breakdown
  • Support understanding: use plain language and familiar words, speak clearly and at a moderate volume.
  • Multimodal: supplement their speech with writing, pictures and sign. Communicate with tone of voice, touch, smells, and sounds.
  • Supported expression: scaffold conversations, provide prompts, and offer alternative modes such as writing, pictures, and gestures.
  • Patience: allow time for people to generate and understand messages and manage misinterpretation. Check they have understood someone's message correctly. Clarify the other person’s understanding
  • Support for alternative communication: support the use of technology, communication books, boards, devices, signs. Operate, update, and maintain these systems
  • Anticipation and responsiveness: anticipate and respond to changes in a person’s communication or communication contexts
  • Document: documented knowledge about a person’s communication support needs and preferences
  • Share: sharing information with other partners such as other services. new staff, visitors, and communication partners in the community.
  • Discerning: check which of these supports will be most helpful
  • Consultative: consult with the person with the communication disability, other partners, and specialist services.

Ref: Centre for Applied Disability Research.

Communication supports

Some people with language difficulty can benefit from information that is supplemented with pictures, symbols, signs, or text. The use of visual and written prompts is a great way to enhance communication opportunities.

Some people with Complex Communication Support Needs use aided augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) resources such as cards, books, boards and electronic devices. After a formal communication assessment is made by a specialist recommendations for aides are often made. A number of aides may be trialled whilst determining the right one for an individual.

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