How language works for disabled people

How language works for disabled people

Communication and language are essential elements in everyone's life in terms of their relationship to the world. There are different forms of language, oral, written, gestural that we combine together to make ourselves understood. For people with disabilities oral language is often absent or rudimentary, but they still have the ability to communicate even if they do not do it in the same way. These people will often feel embarrassment or pain about the difficulty of being understood, so we must do everything we can to show them that we understand the message and that we are willing to respond to them.


It is the best known tool in terms of alternative communication, it consists of graphic representations such as pictures, photos, drawings expressing words or ideas.
They are intended for people who can neither speak nor write. Based on vision, it is necessary to be aware of the person's visual perception abilities, that is why direct or indirect designation is unavoidable. They depend on age, abilities and communicative needs and the environment must master them in order to communicate effectively with the person. It is therefore necessary to target the method that best suits the expectations of the person with a disability. A flipchart, a tablet, a computer or even some voice synthesis software can be used.


Also called PECS it is a method created by a psychologist and a speech therapist in the USA to improve the teaching of children with autism. It is not only targeted at people with autism, it can be used with any non-verbal person regardless of age. It aims to respond to the difficulties encountered in programmes to improve communication. It allows you to learn to ask for desired objects by exchanging images with the help of another person and then independently.
It contains 6 phases, the first one consists in exchanging images with physical accompaniment, the second one is to make the exchange spontaneous, the third one is to make the link between the image and the object understandable, the fourth one is sentence construction, the fifth one is learning to answer a question and the last one consists in letting the person answer different questions.


It is a communication and language assistance program with a vocabulary made up of signs or pictograms associated with speech.
Its objective is to improve the understanding of daily situations so that the person becomes an integral part of family life and develops good oral comprehension. Speech is a plus to improve comprehension, it is simplified to a word chosen according to the person's preferences. It also builds up a simple vocabulary using signs and pictograms to illustrate concepts. The visual is essential because it often works better than hearing. Pictures make more sense for comprehension. Using several tools and senses allows the person to express feelings more clearly. This program is implemented after a complete evaluation of skills and needs, for people with disabilities it is always necessary to do it on a case by case basis because each disability is different and each person has to learn in the easiest way for him or her. Just as the support must be adapted according to the receptivity of the person, it can vary in different ways.


It is a code specifically designed to address visual perception disorders in young people with a physical impairment that limits the use of speech. It includes 421 images that can be combined with a vocabulary adapted to the life of a young person with a motor disability. 26 letters and 10 numbers.


It is a language system designed for speech synthesis devices based on the symbolic representation of words, phrases by special icons. This allows to have an extended vocabulary from a limited number of drawings, it is suitable for people with motor or mental difficulties. It is the most used.

Sign language has spread thanks to the families of deaf people who have enriched the language to communicate best with them. Here, as you probably know, gestures are used to communicate by expressing a photographic image of reality most of the time. A butterfly is indicated gesturally by the outline of the wings and their movement. In babies sign language is sometimes used even before they can speak, they understand that using their hands to communicate is effective and less tiring than crying to make their needs understood. It also allows him to ask you questions and initiate interesting conversations. We have found that this reduces frustration and tantrums that are initially caused by a lack of understanding. Research has shown that this has many benefits for the baby. It increases the baby's ability to express himself, facilitates communication, reduces frustration, facilitates the acquisition of oral language and increases the ability to express himself towards his environment. Sign language is therefore not only intended for deaf people, it is a major tool for alternative communication.


There are also a large number of applications to facilitate communication with people with disabilities. Here are a few examples that may be of interest to you.

JABtalk is a free application and a simple and effective way of combining speech and images. It is easy to use and fun, recommended by speech therapists.

NikiTalk is a simple application that gives parents access to a demonstration that allows them to view and learn about the tool.

AVAZ is designed by children for children with a child's voice and is considered one of the best innovations. The choice of the vocabulary is rich and adapted it allows to optimize at best the communication between people.

You also have paid English applications such as Communicate, Look2 Learn AAC, My talk tools mobile and many others that allow you to develop communication in a playful and spontaneous way thanks to images, visual schedules and audio support.

If you would like to give your opinion on the subject or exchange with people from another language to learn a different vocabulary, just visit our Studenz website in the language exchange section.

Written by: Lisa Lambert, Staff Writer

Learning Languages