Communication Board

Static Display Communication Board, Dynamic Display Communication Board

UDL 4.1 UDL 4.2

A Communication Board is an Augmentative and Alternative Communication System (AAC) in which students communicate using pointing or controlled eye gaze to select pictures, words or symbols that are displayed on a physical surface or digital screen. A low-tech, Static Display Communication Board is often made of plexiglass or a board with a hole cut out in the center. It includes pictures that the user selects (e.g., through eye gaze, pointing) to communicate wants and needs (e.g., food, bathroom) or letters to allow users to spell out messages. Similarly, electronic Static Display Communication Boards display a limited, fixed set of symbols or images for users to choose from. However, unlike the low-tech board, these devices allow the user to generate limited speech (e.g., a single word or simple sentence). Dynamic Display Communication Boards (DDCB) store multiple pages of displays that can be organized and personalized into folders (e.g., by setting, subject area, social speech) for the individual user to access.These devices are speech-generating and allow for more advanced communication (e.g., extended responses, social conversations). Communication Boards empower students to overcome barriers related to traditional communication and effectively communicate their wants, needs and ideas.

Implementation Tips

Finding the Right Match
Partner with a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) who can conduct an augmentative and alternative communication evaluation in order to find the perfect match for the individual user. Check out [[|this video]] which highlights some of the options an SLP will consider.
Introducing Communication Boards
Provide explicit instruction with any new type of Communication Board. An SLP can facilitate discrete trial therapy, where students are systematically taught how to use the board to communicate specific wants and needs. While training times will vary, teachers should expect significant, repetitive practice.
Confirmation System
Establish a yes/no confirmation system based on the student’s cognitive and physical abilities (e.g., blinking twice to communicate “no.”) to avoid and repair communication breakdowns.
Selecting Icons
Consider using actual photographs, when possible, of needs and items a student may wish to request (e.g., photo of student’s actual water bottle). Animated cartoons, stick figures or illustrations may be too abstract for the user to access.
Organizing Icons
Determine how icons will be organized. Some boards may be best organized by setting (e.g., classroom, speech room, playground), while others may be organized by activity (e.g., math, reading, art). The teacher, SLP, and student, when appropriate, can collectively determine the best system.
Low-Tech Board
Consider having a low-tech Communication Board available as a backup in case of device failure. [[|Construct]] or [[|aquire]] a low-tech Communication Board that utilizes letters, words or pictures, depending on the student’s ability level.
Signs of Fatigue
Watch students closely for signs of fatigue (e.g., watery eyes, rapid blinking). Include an easy way for students to communicate when they need to rest their eyes (e.g., shifting eye gaze to the floor).
Increasing Independent Communication
Encourage students to use the Communication Board independently and increase participation in academic and social conversations when possible. As students develop proficiency, consider reducing prompts (e.g., physical, verbal, gestural).


Dynamic Display Communication Board
After reading a story aloud in class, an upper elementary teacher programs a student’s Dynamic Display Communication Board to include specific vocabulary and pictures that the student will need to answer the same reading comprehension questions as the rest of the class. The teacher creates a “reading” page. In this page, the teacher includes vocabulary and pictures for the characters, setting, key events from the story and feelings that were expressed by the characters. During the class discussion of the story elements, the teacher is sure to include the student using the Communication Board in the class discussion (e.g., “Ari, how did the man feel when he woke up?”).
Static Display Communication Board
It is preferred activity time in an elementary classroom. To support a student that uses a Static Display Communication Board, the teacher has printed, laminated and labeled photographs of all the activities that students can choose from during this time. The teacher has attached each of the labeled photos to the student’s Communication Board and recorded simple sentences for each label. The teacher asks the student, “What would you like to do during preferred activity time?” The student presses the photograph of the class library and the device generates a recording of the teacher saying, “I want to read a book in the library.” The teacher confirms, “You’re telling me you would like to read a book in the classroom library.” The student signals “yes” with a thumbs-up sign.
Low-Tech Communication Board
The teacher is leading a morning discussion group and asks students to share one thing they did over the weekend. When it is the turn of a student that uses a Communication Board, the teacher’s assistant holds the Communication Board in front of the student. The student makes eye contact to convey readiness to communicate. The teacher’s assistant moves a finger slowly across the line of letters until “L” is reached and the student blinks to select the letter L. The teacher’s assistant says “L” out loud and then moves the finger back to the start of the letter line to repeat the process. The student continues using the Communication Board to spell out “L-A-K-E.” The teacher confirms “You’re telling us you went to the lake?” The student blinks once for “yes.”

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