Communication barriers

People who have disabilities that affect their communication can experience a range of barriers when accessing goods and services.  Depending on the service, many of these barriers can have significant consequences. Common experiences reported by people with communication disabilities include:

  • Being ignored
  • Having their competence underestimated
  • Having decisions deferred to other people
  • Not having their messages understood
  • Not being given the time to communicate
  • Not having the supports they need to understand what others are saying
  • Not getting written information in ways they can use and understand
  • Not being given forms in ways they can access
  • Not being able to sign documents using alternate signatures
  • Not having accessible websites and social media
  • Not having alternate arrangements to telephone services to set up appointments and use services
  • Not having the supports they need to communicate at pubic forums and meetings

In critical situations:

  • Not having procedures in place to ensure they can give informed consent (healthcare, legal situations)
  • Not having the supports they may need to disclose and testify about abuse and crimes (police and justice situations)
  • Not having access to qualified facilitators to support them in decision-making and complex service negotiations

Click here for CDAC’s national survey on communication barriers.