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Communicating with family and friends and at work and school is part of everyday life.

You, a family member or the person you care for may wish to communicate better with others and use the phone, email or social media.

Developing social skills and getting support when communication is frustrating is important.

Home alarm systems make sure that you are able to communicate in an emergency.

Communicating with others

If you or a family member have difficulty following a conversation, you may wish to contact an audiologist. The audiologist will test your hearing and may assess you for the most appropriate device for your needs. The audiologist may advise you on dealing with noise around you and strategies for managing hearing loss.

Child learning words

If you or a family member want to communicate more effectively, a speech pathologist can support you to express your needs and wants, thoughts and feelings. Speech pathologists can work with you to develop your understanding and use of words and sentences, or to improve how you use sounds in words so that other people can understand your speech more easily. A speech pathologist can also support you to develop your reading and writing skills. They can also give you support to use signs, gestures or communication aids together with or instead of speech to help you communicate.

Using a communication deviceA speech pathologist will work with you to understand your communication needs. If you need a communication aid or device, they will make recommendations that take into account how you move and your reading ability. The speech pathologist can also train you and others around you to use your communication method or device, so that you are able to get your message across to as many people as possible.

Social skills

Many people feel anxious in social situations. Psychologists, social workers and occupational therapists run both individual and group programs that teach you strategies to cope with anxiety and to work on your social interaction and communication skills.This could be at your office, at home or in the community.

A speech pathologist can also support you to increase your social communication skills, for example, listening to others, starting conversations, taking turns, understanding and using body language, and using the right volume.

Support when communication is frustrating

At times you may find it difficult to communicate your needs to others. This can lead to frustration and at times anger. A psychologist can work with you to find ways to make communication easier so that your personal needs are met.

If you feel you are not getting the community services you need and are finding it difficult to contact the right people, a social worker can negotiate on your behalf to find a good solution.


If you or a family member want to use the phone but cannot make yourself understood because of a speech impairment, a speech pathologist can work with you to find strategies to use the phone successfully. This also could be through the use of phone devices that amplify your speech.

For support in making calls if you are Deaf or have a speech or hearing impairment, the National Relay Service offers many different services.

If you or a family member want to use the phone but have difficulty grasping the phone or pressing keys, an occupational therapist can advise you on phone options. The Independent Living Centres also have many different types of phones on display and on their online database that may be right for you if you have difficulty holding the phone or have a hearing or vision impairment.


Using a laptop

You or a family member may want to communicate with people through a computer. This may be by email, phone calls or with social media. There are so many options and different ways to interact with the computer. The computer might be a desk-top unit, a laptop, a tablet or even a smart phone.

If you need additional devices to access the computer, an occupational therapist can provide solutions based on your needs. The occupational therapist will learn more about what you want to do on the computer and how you move and will then show you some options to support you to access the computer. The occupational therapist can also work with you on using a keyboard, a head stick or other ways of interacting with the computer.

Using a communication device

Once you are satisfied with this solution, the occupational therapist will arrange to have the entire system installed and train you how to use it.

Specialist computer and assistive technology services provide information, advice and support to people with a disability in choosing appropriate computer access, communication and assistive technology options. Services are available in most states and information can be obtained online from the Australian Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Association.

Communicating in an emergency

If you live on your own or spend time alone now and then, there are alert and safety systems to use in an emergency. This means that if you fall over or hurt yourself and can not reach the phone, you still can contact your family or a service centre to get help.

An occupational therapist can assess your needs and advise on the system for you. The Independent Living Centres have information on their databases about alert and safety systems.