Leading Practice Guidelines


Type: Voice

Guideline: The organization acknowledges and supports communication as a fundamental human right and as such, works actively to ensure that the person is provided required support to maximize their ability to communicate throughout their daily life.

What does this look like?

The organization offers or seeks (as needed) clinical services to assist in identifying the form of communication or method that works best for the person. This may include a range of options such as: speech therapy, use of sign language, printed symbols, switches, augmentative communication devices or use of computers.

The person, their family and support network are informed and educated on how to use any communication aids or devices appropriately and meaningfully.

The organization has a process to ensure that any devices and supports required by the person to communicate are available to them in all the settings and places they go throughout their day.

Staff act as active communication partners who value all communication, whether intentional or not and take the time to really listen and respond. They help others involved in the person’s life to communicate with them through modeling and teaching.

While each person has unique needs, where possible, staff should try to create conditions to enable effective communication. This may involve:

  • Face the person
  • Speak (or sign) clearly and at a moderate pace and volume
  • Use plain language, choosing words the person may likely be familiar with
  • Minimize background noise and unnecessary distractions
  • Considering the impacts of fatigue, pain, temperature, illness, medications or stress

Where people use unique and personalized gestures, noises and facial expressions to communicate, the organization works with the person and their support network to capture and document these along with their interpreted meaning. This documentation is available to all those that interact with the person to facilitate understanding and relationships.

Staff need training on the importance of communication, how the people they work with communicate and what support they require. Training may need to be refreshed as technology assistance for communication changes regularly.

The organization trains staff to carefully clarify messages and check the extent of a person’s comprehension, particularly in high-risk legal, financial, or medical situations.

How would you know this is happening? (Evidence)

What you see in systems:

  • The methods and the supports needed for the person to communication effectively throughout their day are documented in Support Plans
  • Staff training and records
  • Clinical recommendations are available as needed

What you see in actions:

  • People have access to the supports needed to communicate to the best of their ability in all environments. Families and support networks are aware of and supported to use communication aids or devices.
  • Staff are confident and competent in their ability to support the communication needs of the people they serve.

Resources to support achieving guideline:

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