Imagine what it is like to be in a hospital, unable to speak or understand what is said to you.

The ability to communicate is critical, yet many stroke and head injury survivors, intubated patients, developmentally disabled individuals and non-native English speakers are unable to do so. Medical staff often overlook or never explore the use of low-cost communication solutions. Hospitals, urgent care centers, skilled nursing facilities and medical offices are critical places to be able to express wants and needs and ask questions. The use of pictures as well as multi-language text support may reduce stress and promote more effective medical care. We need to advocate for individuals who can’t speak for themselves and provide them with tools to support their ability to communicate

If a paper/pencil or whiteboard solution is not sufficient, there are other methods to try in order to establish functional communication. A speech-language pathologist would be the ideal professional to assess the most appropriate approach to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) solutions. However, this skilled service is not always an option.

The use of images and written words with medical personnel and family can help people understand and remember what is said to them. Picture support can also help individuals express their needs, thoughts, and symptoms.

As a speech-language pathologist and technology specialist, I spend the majority of my time working with many types of everyday mobile devices to improve communication, learning, and productivity. I also customize dedicated communication devices that provide speech output and apps to support the development of language and speech.

Technology-based solutions are not always available or appropriate. We can’t lose site of readily available paper-based solutions. We need to advocate for our loved ones who can’t speak for themselves. A thorough AAC assessment may be ideal, but trying out a few options listed here is a great way to to get started.

I’ve spent time searching online and am pleased to share with you free digital downloads that I found to facilitate communication in medical settings.

Learn about resources to support communication in hospitals, urgent care centers and doctor’s offices. Click here to access materials >>