Augmentative and Alternative Communication

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Communication Boards

Here are a few practical resources that might be useful. They are low-tech ‘communication boards’ that a person who does not speak clearly can point to, to help them to communicate and get their message across to a listener.

Download and view these resources and if you like them, save, print out (in colour), then laminate for use. One or two allow for personalising - write in to the blank square with a non-permanent marker (which can then be wiped off, for a new message another time).

alpha card (.pdf, 0.15Mb)

This is a simple chart with the alphabet, numbers and some key words/messages on it. Someone who can't speak can point out their message letter by letter using this (though you'll need to check they can read and spell, first, and point reliably, before using this). Slow but effective. 

 

 
bus (.pdf, 0.39Mb)

This card contains key vocabulary needed to ask for a bus ticket, enquire about prices, times, ask for help etc. You need to write in the destination to the blank "I'm going to...." box (use non-permanent marker, then wipe off and re-use later.)

 
Help postcard (.pdf, 6.5Mb)

A person who uses AAC can carry a postcard (A6 size) that helps to explain their situation to new people when they meet, and gives hints and tips about being a good communication partner. Print out (colour, A4), trim, fold over carefully and laminate.

 
help card 1 (.pdf, 0.13Mb)

This page has three copies of the same card on it, designed to be printed out, cut up and assembled. The grey side should be stuck back to back with the yellow side, to make a credit-card sized communication card. The grey side explains briefly that the card-holder can't speak but can understand and communicate in other ways. The yellow side gives hints and tips on how the listener can help to make the conversation work well. 

 
placemat (.pdf, 0.19Mb)

This is designed as "chatty placemat". During snack or meal, put the plate on the mat and use the symbols around the edge to talk about the meal, ask for more, express views and make requests re help with eating and drinking. 

 
pocket bus (.pdf, 0.37Mb)

This card is the same as the bigger bus card but in a small size that can be folded up in the pocket. 

 
pocket cards 1 (.pdf, 0.11Mb)

These three sheets are designed to be printed out and assembled as a 'key ring' type fan of message cards. Print out all three, cut out all the blue 'keys'. Choose the messages you want to use and the order you want them in. Stick them back to back to make double-sided keys. Then laminate the double-sided keys and cut round them again. Punch a hole at the narrow end and put a 'treasury tag' or similar through, to hold the bunch of keys together. Put a cord or plastic tie through and attach to a belt or bag or wrist-band etc., as required. 

 
pocket cards 2 (.pdf, 0.11Mb)

The messages include basic communication needs eg. "Please can you help me?"; "look in my bag"; I need the toilet"; "In emergency, please call..you write in"; etc.

 
pocket cards 3 (.pdf, 0.11Mb)

The messages include more basic communication needs eg. "what time?"; "although I can't speak, I can hear and understand you OK"; please wait"; etc.

 
pocket train (.pdf, 0.37Mb)

This card is the same as the bigger train card but in a small size that can be folded up in the pocket. 

 
qwerty (.pdf, 0.15Mb)

Another style of alphabet/number chart for spelling out messages, with some basic communication phrases. This is the most useful layout for people already familiar with using a keyboard, as they will find the letters and numbers more easily.

 
shopping card (.pdf, 0.26Mb)

This card will be useful in shops, for talking to the shop assistant, making basic requests and asking for help. It includes all the usual coins and bank notes, to help discussions about price, change etc. 

 
train (.pdf, 0.28Mb)

This card contains key vocabulary needed to ask for a rail ticket, enquire about prices, platform number, times, ask for help etc. You need to write in the destination to the blank "I'm going to...." box (use non-permanent marker, then wipe off and re-use later.)

 
 
who, why, what, when Alpha (Vowel alpha) (.pdf, 0.12Mb)

This is another style of alphabet/number chart for spelling out messages. It includes basic question words, to help the user ask for clarification, quickly.

 
 

Acknowledgements

The software used to produce these resources is MatrixMaker Plus from Inclusive Technology Ltd.

Permission has kindly been granted for use of the copyright graphics and symbols, as used in the resources:

Matrix Maker Plus is commended as a robust, good value and easy-to-use application. Widgit and Symbol Stix symbols are amongst the most popular symbol systems used in the UK. But other symbol software and symbol libraries are, of course, available.

Copyright

These resources were created by Sally Millar, CALL Scotland, for the ‘Right to Speak’ project. Copyright is held jointly by CALL Scotland and NHS Education for Scotland (NES). The resources are free for download and use, and may be freely reproduced for training purposes and/or for use by communication-impaired people, with appropriate acknowledgement of the author and copyright owners.

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  • These resources must not be sold for profit or published without acknowledgement of the author and copyright owners.