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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Malone

Barriers to Inclusion - PT5


Communication Barriers Affecting People with Disabilities


Digital


“Communication barriers are experienced by people who have disabilities that affect hearing, speaking, reading, writing, and or understanding, and who use different ways to communicate than people who do not have these disabilities.”  


Here are some examples of communication barriers. Using small print materials or not providing alternate, accessible formats prevent people with vision impairments from accessing the information. Using videos that do not include captioning or not providing a sign language interpreter will prevent hearing impaired people from participating since they cannot access the information. Using long sentences with multisyllable, technical words prevent people with cognitive disabilities from understanding the information.


Information is delivered in many different formats. Newsletters, websites, PowerPoint presentations, social media posts are present day means to obtaining calendars, announcements, lyrics, lesson outlines, etc. Using current methods has its advantages and challenges. Each method must have attention paid to its accessible features.


Examples of areas where barriers to communication occur are

  • Print materials

  • Presentations and slides

  • Teaching methods

  • Website design and features

  • Social media posts

  • Videos and live streaming

Learning and implementing accessible practices will reduce confusing and missed information. One resource is https://www.w3.org/ .


Personal


Speaking with individuals who has a communication disability has its own challenges. All people need to be able to communicate to work, build relationships, and seek the support they need. But they will encounter many barriers to taking part and being included. People with a communication disability often report others treat them as though they’re stupid. Individuals often address the person’s companion. If a communication device is used, other people are uncomfortable using it.


Regardless of their speech abilities or cognitive skills, everyone has the right to communicate. Treat them the same as you would any other person, talk directly to them, and ask them questions. Use any communication device that the person needs. Be open to alternate forms of effective communication.


As we consider the many ways we communicate with our community, employees, volunteers, and the public, the work may seem overwhelming. Don’t worry. Eliminating these barriers does not have to be complicated. The goal is to convey information effectively. Everyone will benefit. Eliminating communication barriers will go far with establishing an increasingly inclusive environment.


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