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Health & Wellbeing

Visuals Supporting Communication

childs drawing of a boy and girl.
family wall calendar
By Meg Eliason - Speech Pathologist

The World is a Visual Place.


How do you know to follow traffic rules? How can you remember all your scheduled appointments?

Here's a hint, all these answers are linked to the word visuals.

Visuals are defined as something that can be used to explain something to convey a message. Speech Pathologists define visuals as using pictures, photographs, drawings, or objects to communicate or convey a message. Visual communication makes sure that a clear message is delivered.

So to fully answer those questions... how do we know to follow traffic rules? By lights and signs.

How can we remember all our appointments? By our phone and wall calendars and our work schedules.

These are all types of visuals.

As are: ID Lanyards, hospital charts, door signs, restaurant menus and more!

young boy holds whiteboard with visuals and text

So, why should we use visuals?

1. Visuals are permanent.

They are shown through signs, pictures, and lanyards - pieces of information that we can see in various places.

2. Visuals allow for language processing.

We can create a visual for each individual and their need. For children, we would have more pictures; for adults, we may have more descriptions for learning difficulties. We may have pictures with simple phrases.

3. Visuals help build independence.

Visuals can be created at any size and might help someone in the community when they have difficulty. For instance, having your coffee order written down on a card in your wallet so you can show staff is easier than remembering all the words.

4. Visuals help reduce anxiety.

People often rely on schedules and calendars to make sure they know what is going on and when they need to be somewhere instead of relying on their memory skills.

5. Visuals are transferable between environments and people.

We can carry, hold, show, and look up visuals practically everywhere, allowing for more streamlined community support.

Visuals can be useful for everyone, and you decide on how it might help your daily activities and home life!

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