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Image of a young girl with glasses in a wheelchair with a lap tray.  On the lap tray are a variety of alternative communication devices.

What Is Communication?

Communication is any act by which one person gives to or receives from another person information about that person's needs, desires, perceptions, knowledge, or effective states. Communication may be intentional or unintentional, may involve conventional or unconventional signals, may take linguistic or nonlinguistic forms, and may occur through spoken or other modes.

Thus, all persons do communicate in some way; however, the effectiveness and efficiency of this communication vary with a number of individual and environmental factors. Further, some individuals with severe disabilities develop unconventional and socially inappropriate means to communicate, including aggressive acts toward themselves and others. It is the responsibility of all persons who interact with individuals with severe disabilities to recognize the communication acts produced by those individuals and to seek ways to promote the effectiveness of communication by and with those individuals. 

Source: National Joint Committee for the Communication Needs of Persons With Severe Disabilities. (1991). Guidelines for meeting the communication needs of persons with severe disabilities. 

Communication Bill of Rights

"All persons, regardless of the extent or severity of their disabilities, have a basic right to affect, through communication, the conditions of their own existence."  Read more about the Communication Bill of Rights 

Communication Resources