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Communication Disabilities

When someone has a communication disability, there are four main areas that can be affected. Depending on the nature of the disability, one or more of these areas can be involved. They include a person’s ability to:

  • speak
  • understand what others are saying
  • read
  • write

Some of the main types of communication disabilities affect the following:


For people who are deaf or have a hearing loss it can be difficult or impossible to hear what a person is saying and sometimes their own speech may not be easily understood


People who have disabilities such as cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis may have difficulty moving their muscles to speak, using gestures, turning pages in a book and writing.


People who have intellectual disabilities from birth, or acquire Alzheimer’s disease later in life, can have problems remembering, learning, understanding, or problem-solving which can make communication challenging.


People who have aphasia after a stroke or accident may have difficulty understanding others, speaking, reading and writing. The experience of aphasia is similar to being in a foreign country where you know what you want but you have problems understanding others or expressing yourself.

In addition to having communication challenges, many people have multiple disabilities. People who are deafblind have limited hearing and vision. They are unable to use these senses to receive communication. People who have cerebral palsy may be unable to speak, walk or physically manipulate objects. People who have autism may experience challenges learning and using language, as well as interacting with other people.

Regardless of the cause of the disability, all people who have communication disabilities are individuals and communicate in their own ways.

They can also communicate more effectively when they are given appropriate supports. And that’s where you come in.