Methods for supporting communication

With small children, visual communication may need to be used to support the learning of speech. This makes interaction easier and less resources are expended on making one’s self understood. This also helps the child develop his or her interaction skills regardless of the level at which he or she comprehends or produces speech.

What’s right for us?

Each method of supporting communication is unique and the choice depends on the individual needs of the child. A speech therapist can advise on which method or methods are best for you, but the real-life experiences of other parents are especially valuable. Get to know the various methods available and choose that one that feels the best and meets you current needs. The needs the support methods needs to meet will change over time, so it’s important to regularly evaluate the situation.

If a child’s hearing loss is severe, it’s important to remember that even though the child uses spoken language, the child can’t receive spoken language via hearing without an aid. Having a visual support method that is easy for the family to rely on is important for times like these.


If understanding or producing spoken language is difficult, pictures can be used a visual aid. The use of pictures is based on the child understanding the connection between the object and the image that represents it. Day cares use pictures with little children They’re a good way to illustrate daily routines and can be used to steer activities, even if a child has no documented special needs.


Lip or speech reading refers to the act of observing the articulation gestures of the lips, tongue, teeth and jaw. A lip reader can read from a person’s lips what he or she is saying even if he or she can’t hear the speaker’s voice.

Cued speech

Cued speech is a method for assisting lipreadign by making spoken language visible.

Key word signing

Key word signingTukiviittomia käytetään puheen tukena ja tällöin viitotaan vain viestin välittymisen kannalta oleelliset avainsanat.

Signed speech

In signed speech what is spoken is signed in real-time, too.

Tactile signing

People with both sight and hearing impairment, such as the deafblind, use tactile signing, which is based on the standard system of dean manual signs. Sense of feel can be used to convey information about, e.g. direction and feelings.

Finger spelling

The method uses the sign language alphabet to sign the first letter of each word. Often used to support lipreading.

What about sign language?

Sign language is a silent language with its own syntax and grammar, so in that way it isn’t a method of communication that supports spoken language. A child and family who have used used some signs in communication can easily learn sign language, which offers a way to connect with the sign language community and culture.