JCPSLP Vol 21 No 3 2019

Multimodal communication

Top 10 resources for multimodal communication Two-way multimodal communication across the lifespan

H armony Turnbull (@SP_Harmony) is a speech pathologist with longstanding experience in the field of disability, communication disability, and dysphagia. She is now pursuing higher degree research at the Graduate School of Health at the University of Technology Sydney, exploring the accessibility of written health information for people with communication disability. She has a strong person-centred and rights-based philosophy and recognises the important overlap between “disability” and “health”. Multimodal communication is recognising that people express themselves using a variety of modalities, as well as understanding communication in multiple modalities. This edition of “Top 10” focuses on supporting accessible two- way (expressive and receptive) communication for people of all ages. Supporting comprehension 1 Plain language Clinicians providing written information to people who use multimodal communication need to make sure the information is easily understood. The Hemingway editor website ( is a freely available tool for writers to check how difficult their text might be for a person to read. It also makes suggestions for improving writing. For example, it detects passive voice in writing, highlights sentences that are more difficult to read, and identifies words that may have a simpler alternative. 2, 3 & 4 Symbol sets Images can help to support comprehension of written information for some people (Sutherland & Isherwood, 2016). The BoardmakerTM software (https://goboardmaker. com/pages/what-is-boardmaker) is a well-known source of picture communication symbols (PCS) and is now available online ( with a free time-limited trial period before subscription. There are also many other symbol sets available at different price-points depending on your budget. This Spectronics webpage ( article/symbol-set-comparison) contains a great list and comparisons of a variety of symbol sets that can be used to support multimodal communication. This page on the PrAACticalAAC website (https:// also has some great links to more information that can help clinicians make informed choices about using symbols.

Promoting communication as a human right 5 Communication Bill of Rights The National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons With Severe Disabilities (NJC; https:// is a group of professionals with a common interest in enhancing communication effectiveness for individuals with severe disabilities (Brady et al., 2016). Among many other valuable activities relating to augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) and multimodal communication, the NJC developed the Communication Bill of Rights ( uploadedFiles/NJC-Communication-Bill-Rights.pdf). There are also a number of adapted and accessible formats of the Communication Bill of Rights. ( au/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Bill-of-rights-2017_a2.pdf; bill-of-rights-free-pictures_1.zp59219.pdf) 6 AAC Awareness Month October is International AAC Awareness Month (https:// aac-awareness-month/) which aims to bring global attention to community leaders and people of all ages who use multimodal communication. The theme for 2018 was “Dare to Lead” which shone a light on the rights and achievements of people who use AAC. Visit the ISAAC website ( awareness/) to find out the theme for AAC Awareness Month 2019. 7 Silent morning tea A great activity during AAC Awareness month is to host a Silent Morning Tea ( communication-access/what-is-silent-morning-tea/). Scope Australia provides excellent resources to help anyone host this event to raise awareness of communication rights and the importance of supporting everyone to communicate. Resources for further reading 8 The Silent Partner? Language, Interaction and Aided Communication The Silent Parnter focuses on multimodal communicators as people who can achieve their communication rights to have good lives when those around them have the right attitudes and appropriate supports.


JCPSLP Volume 21, Number 3 2019

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