Speech and Language Disabilities

Some people have communication challenges. It could be the result of cerebral palsy, hearing loss, or another condition that makes it difficult to pronounce words, causes slurring or stuttering, or not being able to express oneself or understand written or spoken language. Some people who have severe difficulties may use communication boards, sign language or other assistive devices. 

Here are some suggestions to help you interact with people with speech and language disabilities: 

  • Just because a person has one disability doesn’t mean they have another. For example, if a person has difficulty speaking, make no assumption they have an intellectual disability as well. 
  • If you don’t understand, ask the person to repeat the information. 
  • Avoid referring to the disability or using phrases like “handicapped”. 
  • If you are able, ask questions that can be answered ‘yes’ or ‘no’. 
  • Take some time. Be patient and polite and give the person whatever time they need to get their point across. 
  • Allow the individual to finish their sentences themselves without interruption. 
  • Patience, respect and a willingness to find a way to communicate are your best tools. 


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