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Australian Disability Clearinghouse on Education and Training

Inclusive Communication - General Good Practice

Inclusive communication recognises that people communicate differently and encourages the use of a variety of techniques. It incorporates all forms of communication, both verbal and non-verbal; non-verbal communication is often just as important to the meaning as what is being said. By being aware of and incorporating inclusive communication skills into everyday exchanges, the chances of positive and effective interactions with all people are increased.1 The following tips are intended to inform and guide you in being a more inclusive communicator. They apply to interactions with anyone.

  • Always remember that a person with a disability is a person like anyone else. Treat adults as adults
  • Look and speak directly to the person rather than communicating with them through their companion
  • When meeting a person who is vision impaired, identify yourself and those with you, and inform the person who is vision impaired when you are leaving
  • Provide assistance only when your offer to help has been accepted
  • Use reflective listening skills: ask open questions, summarise what the other person has said or asked in order to ensure correct comprehension
  • When communicating with a person who has difficulty speaking, be patient and provide them with time to complete their sentences
  • Always face the individual to whom you are speaking
  • Turn down, or off, background noise or music
  • Ensure that only one person speaks at a time during conversations or discussions
  • Repeat other students' questions and comments to ensure everyone has heard
  • Read aloud material presented visually
  • Give both oral and written instructions
  • Pace your delivery
  • When students have assistants such as notetakers or interpreters, address questions and comments directly to the student
  • If necessary, allow brief breaks to allow students and sign-language interpreters to keep up
  • Be flexible - if one communication strategy doesn't work try another
  • When speaking with a person who uses a wheelchair or crutches, pull up a chair to put yourself at eye level


1 University of Melbourne (2005). Strategies for Inclusive Communication: Interacting with People with a Disability. Accessed on 12 November 2014. Retrieved from