No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else.

—Charles Dickens, Our Mutual Friend

The practice of communication offers incredible opportunities for creative-minded professionals. One rewarding area of the creative communication discipline involves innovative approaches to reach individuals who have sensory impairments. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “360 million people live with disabling hearing loss” (2013, p. 1). The organization also reports that “285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide” (WHO, 2014). Although these statistics represent communication obstacles for a significant portion of global audiences, ongoing advances in technology combined with creative approaches provides a solution.

Communication professionals have a responsibility to communicate with all individuals in a community. New modes and formats of communication make it easier for professionals to reach all audiences. A commitment to include those who speak, hear, and see differently enriches lives of everyone involved in the communication process. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) provides professionals with a chance to serve in their communities and promote positive social change.

This week you explore how communication tools are used to deliver messages to individuals with special needs. You also consider creative strategies to overcome communication challenges for these target audiences to achieve organizational goals.

Image sources:
Book written in only braille. (2014). Retrieved from|

Sign language representation of the letter “A.” (2014) Retrieved from|mt:2|

Learning Objectives

Students will:

Learning ObjectiveAssociated Weekly Activity
Analyze augmentative and adaptive communication toolsCollaboration Activity
Evaluate augmentative and adaptive communication strategiesCollaboration Activity
Evaluate communication challenges for special needs audiencesPractitioner Assignment
Analyze augmentative and adaptive communication tools and strategies to support corporate social responsibility effortsPractitioner Assignment

Learning Resources

Required Readings

Week 6 Learning Resources Guide (PDF)

Schectman, T. (2011, February 7). 7 assistive communication Apps in the iPad App Store [Blog post]. Retrieved from


This blog provides information about assistive communication apps for iPad as resources for individuals with special language needs.

Health Care for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Toolkit for Primary Care Providers. (n.d.). Communicating Effectively. Retrieved June 17, 2021, from

Books of Hope, LLC. (n.d.). Speaking books: Our story. Retrieved June 17, 2021, from
This web article provides an example of how audiobooks were used to deliver health information in South Africa.

Jahnich, M. (2014). 2014’s top 4 trends in CSR communication. Retrieved from


The author explains how companies in France provide information on social and environmental impacts in response to requests for documentation of corporate social responsibility efforts.

Strickland, J. (n.d.). What is the future of communication? Retrieved August 8, 2014, from


The author considers the implications of the Internet on communication in the near future.

Required Media

Covenant Health Care.(2012). Alternative augmentative communication devices [Video file]. Retrieved from


Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 3 minutes.


This video documents the use of augmentative devices to assist a child to overcome communication hurdles.

Harbisson, N. (2012). I listen to color [Video file]. Retrieved from


Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 10 minutes.


The presenter explains how he was able to use a device to replace the function of a sensory impairment.

Books of Hope, LLC. (2008). Speaking books working in the community [Video file]. Retrieved from


Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 6 minutes.


This video conveys how audiobooks are used to support health care education.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2014a). Design thinking: Alternative and augmentative communications [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 4 minutes.

In this interview, a practicing communication professional, Cliff Bridges, stresses the importance of increasing access to communication for audiences with special needs. He also touches on addressing access concerns associated with the digital divide.

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