Barriers to Communication – Part I

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The Barriers to Communication – Part 1

with Thanks to Markinsutton

Mark at The Reading Festival

At Trabasack we are keen to always be at the forefront of developments and new technology in assistive communication technology and communication aids and we also value the opinions of those who experience difficulty and overcome the problem of communication due a range of differences and conditions.

Markinsutton is a great friend of ours and also a Trabasaxon so when we read his latest blog post discussing the barriers of communication, we felt it was important to share it on this blog for a wider audience:

“Someone recently asked me what are the barriers to communication? Well I going to knock myself out and tell you just what barriers I face and how they affect me on a personal level. I may also touch on other barriers that don’t affect me but I can see causing a problem for those I work with.

Communication has always been my biggest barrier in life and one that I have struggled to overcome since a little boy with no speech. Growing up I found that speech is only one part of the barrier and really hasn’t been the hardest to overcome. Most of what we say is total rubbish anyway and I have communicated better with people around me without the use of speech. Before I move on to methods I use as my communication I thought it would be good to touch onto the barriers with speech.

Speech and the spoken language!

The real problem with speech is the speed it works at, there is no delay or time to correct what you have said. Once you have opened your mouth and started to speak a word, you have already expressed so much information. Someone like me who has a problem with speech this becomes even more difficult. Take a simple word that most would open a dialog with another person, “hello” first barrier for me is remembering to swallow so I don’t end up choking on my own saliva when I open my mouth, worse still end up dribbling what saliva down the front of me that will portray a whole different message to the person I am saying hello to. The next barrier is just how I say the word. Tone, pitch and volume are all concepts that having a hearing loss are alien to me. Most people say that I have a London accent but understanding accents and how people talk is another barrier I do not understand. When do you say “Hello” and why, does the person really want to make conversation with me and if so why? Should I reply with a hello back, what do I say next? Should I ask “how are you?” you get the picture. The spoken language has a whole set of rules that are very different depending on who you are with, where and when. I could write a whole book on the barriers that I face on speech alone but I am sure there are 100 of books out there on this topic. All I know is sometimes it’s really too much effort and is hard and complex form of communication to manage within the spilt second you open your mouth.

Written language, there are many forms of written language and I am aware that I have not touch on many other barriers of communication before talking about this subject. The reason why I have jumped from speech to written is because it’s the most common two forms of communication that people understand but is far the most common two used. For example the biggest use of communication I use is silence. The amount of times I have done nothing to portray a message across is much more than any other form of communication I use and is much more effective than trying something else. The biggest barrier to me for me and most people with the written language is spelling and grammar. Just how do we construct a sentence? What words do we use? How do we put them together? There is also the other greatest barrier with the written language that is the ability and time to read it. If you have got this far within reading this passage on communication you are doing well. I am one who likes to write as I find it gives me time to express my ideas and thoughts onto paper. I also feel it can be the most effective form of communication. You only have to ask William Shakespeare that!

Another barrier with written text is speed of trying to turn it into spoken word. In my experience this has never worked. AAC devices are great for expressing your needs and wants but that is pretty much about all. Having a conversation via an AAC device is next to impossible to do. The speed which one can input text and translate that to speech is far too slow. This is something I have noticed being chairman of a charity that supports children with AAC devices is becoming easier with new technology but still has a long way to go before it can replace speech. There is also the biggest barrier with the written form of communication that is the ability to read it. There are so many people today that are unable to read this is why most of my blogs and emails I send in audio format as well. The age of texting (SMS) messages has made this worse in my view as people have tried to cram in too much within a text message and information gets lost along the way.  Text messages have opened up a whole new world allowing us to communicate on a much more equal level but presents a whole new set of rules and barriers within its own way.


Drop by to read the next part of Mark’s story.


Bethan is a full time mama, self-employed copywriter and many other things. Her interests include books, rubbish TV, eating too much and Reading Football Club. Connect with me on Google+

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