Ways That People Communicate

Talking is often seen as the most common method of communication but most communication is silent. Gestures, tone of voice, grins, grimaces, shrugs, nods, moving away or closer, crossing arms and legs tells us far more than words. Learning to take account of these reactions is all part of developing your communication skills to achieve the best outcomes for individuals. Communication can be harder when we can’t see these signs like when we use the phone, texts or email.

Individuals will have ways of communicating that work best for them. Some of the different ways that people communicate are:

Verbal communication

Differences in how you speak, including the tone, pitch and volume of your voice could change how your messages are taken in. Try to avoid using jargon or abbreviations and complicated words or terminology. Make sure you always speak in a respectful way, adjusting your speech to suit the individual.

Non verbal communication

Sign language – This is a recognised language throughout the world. British Sign Language (BSL) is used by individuals in this country and there are variations of sign language in different regions.

Makaton – This is a form of language that uses a large collection of signs and symbols. It is often used with those who have learning and physical disabilities, or hearing impairment.

Braille – is a code of raised dots that are ‘read’ using touch. For people who are visually impaired or who are blind, the system supports reading and writing.

Body language – This is a type of non verbal communication. There are many different positioning and body movements. Each of these will communicate information about an individual or a worker often without them realising it.

Gestures – These are hand or arm movements. Each of these will communicate information about an individual or a worker often without them realising it.

Facial expressions – These support what is being said by showing reactions of feelings. They can give you valuable clues that you can use to check out their feelings.

Eye contact – Maintaining good eye contact is an important way for a worker to show that they are engaged and listening

Position – The way that we stand, sit of hold our arms when we are talking will provide others with clues about our feelings, attitude and emotions.

Written communication – This method is used to send messages, keep records, or provide evidence

Use to answer question 6.1a of the Care Certificate

Augmentative Communication

Some people supplement their verbal communication by using assistive devices, Assistive Technology (AT) or a communication system to enable them to maximise their communication. Others may use an assistive device or person as a substitute for verbal communication.

Forms of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)

Symbols and pictures – The use of pictures to convey meaning as a substitute for written instruction e.g. providing a person with learning difficulties photographs of alternative foods so the person can choose what they wish to eat.

Objects of reference – The use of an object to convey an associated meaning, e.g. using a mug to associate it with the need to drink or a model of a bed to convey the idea of sleep or bedtime.

Signs – Systems such as Makaton, Signed Supported English and Paget Gorman are used alongside English. The use of signs to support spoken language is not the same as the use of British Sign Language (BSL).

Human Aids to Communication (HACs) – A HAC is a person who enables someone else to have access to another system or form of communication or a supplementary system of communication. For example:

  • Interpreters
  • Translators
  • Lip speakers
  • Note takers
  • Speech to text reporters
  • Deafblind manual communicators

Assistive devices/Technical Aids to Communication

  • Devices to enable someone to use speech – e.g. someone with a physical impairment or speech and/or language impairment can use them to express themselves verbally. Computer activated voice devices; speech boards; speech synthesisers
  • Devices to enable someone to maximise existing hearing to enable them to engage in communication with other people – hearing aids, cochlear implants, induction loop systems, infra-red listening devices
  • Devices for people with visual impairments – machines to read printed information
  • Devices/other assistance to communicate risk or danger to enable someone to be protected from harm (some of these are sound activated or may use alternative means of alerting someone according to their particular need and sensory impairment) – Hearing dogs, assistance dogs, vibrating and flashing smoke alarms for Deaf people; equipment with an audible or other accessible signal (e.g. vibrating pad and/or flashing light).

Use to answer question 6.1a of the Care Certificate

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