Communication Aids Explained | What is a Communication Aid?

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trabasack for communication aid

Communication Aids come in all shapes and sizes

What Is A Communication Aid?

This blog focuses mainly on showing the range of communication aids on the market and how they can benefit users with different abilities. A communication aid is designed to help a person communicate with others. They can be anything from a simple letter board to an extremely sophisticated electronic device which can actually speak on behalf of the user.

Below is a look at some of the main types of communication aid available.

Relevant posts:

Barriers to Communication Part 1 and Part 2

Charts and Books for Communication

Non-verbal individuals or those who live with periods of non-verbalism can often achieve the most basic level of communication through finger pointing or using eye movements to simple symbols and words. These can be put together in a purpose-made communication chart or book. These can be produced easily from home with a range of symbols and words easily locatable online and you can ensure you pick symbols relevant to the specific individual, including photographs. You can also buy ready-made communication charts and books but these won’t be designed to specifically benefit the user in question and will be more generalised.

For more information

Voice Symbol Pen

Apps for Self Expression

Using Switches for Communication


Words and Symbols for Communication 

Even if the individual in question is unable to read, there is value in communication aids which include both symbols and words. These types of symbol card or flash card can be used to help encourage spoken vocabulary too and also used in the development of sign languages such as Makaton. Series of symbols can be considered their own vocabularies and allow individuals with communication difficulties to find a way to express their desires and feelings adequately without anxiety or worry. Equally you can reinforce the verbal element of communication by ensuring you say the word in question if a specific symbol is pointed to or offered up.

Useful posts:

Communication Cards

Image based Apps for the iPad

Simple Communication Apps

Using Proloquo2go on your iPad

Communication aid in use

The Trabasack Mini is the perfect size for the Lightwriter SL40

Speaking Communication Aids

Communication Aids which speak have come a long way since their initial development. Loaded up with pre-recorded messages, words and statements they can be used by those with communication difficulties to verbalise their utterances. This can be through pressing buttons or even through eye-movement recognition.

Communication aids that speak can be as simple as an app which can be loaded onto a device such as an iPad or other tablet device or they can be specifically designed aids which exist only to provide communication. Some devices are filled with pre-recorded messages, ideal for users who require support with simple phrases. Other devices allow for text-to-speech input which allows for more complex and in depth communication.

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More information here:

 iPad helps boy find his voice news story

Using QR Codes as a speech aid

Toby Lightwriter

The new Lightwriter Swift

Logan Proxtalker


Go Talk

Inclusive Slate

Accessible Communication Aids

Trabasack Media Mount, showing the mount holding an iPad

The Trabasack Media Mount is a “truly inclusive” invention, allowing users to utilise and other devices with ease.

There are ways of making almost every communication aid accessible although there are some that aren’t appropriate to specific users. Accessing the right aid can be down to the equipment available and assistive switch technology can make seemingly inaccessible devices extremely user friendly. Choosing the right aid for the user’s specific needs is something that only you and their care team can do, with the right support and assessment and of course some trial and error.

Some posts you may find useful

A homemade more accessible kindle

Making gadgets more accessible with the Trabasack Media Mount

Impact of iPads on disabled people

The best AAC iPad Apps

AAC and communication iPad apps part 2

Selected apps for AAC part 3

Home made eyetracker