Visual Cueing

Visual Communication, Visual Supports, Nonverbal Cues, Gestural Cues

UDL 1.2 UDL 3.1

Visual Cueing is a nonverbal communication tool that conveys messages to an audience through body movements, hand gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, posture, and interpersonal distance. Before using this strategy, the teacher explicitly teaches students each visual cue and its purpose. Then, during instruction, the teacher can use these previously taught cues to convey environmental expectations, redirect behavior, and increase the understanding of language. For example, a teacher might point to an anchor chart on the wall, cup their ears when asking students to listen carefully, or use sign language to redirect a student's actions. This strategy provides the structure, routine, and sequence that many students require in order to successfully participate in a classroom environment.

Implementation Tips

Create Anchor Charts
Post explicitly taught cues and their purposes on an anchor chart. Posting a chart on the wall or board showing the hand shapes of the signals and their meanings will support students' knowledge of commonly used signals
Reviewing Visual Cues
Practice visual cues routinely to ensure students continue to remember the purpose of each of them. Try playing a "Simon Says" type of game, where students practice the expected behavior associated with a specific visual cue.
Pairing Visual and Verbal Cues
Use a combination of visual and verbal cueing to support language development. Pair nonverbal cues (e.g. a teacher gesturing their arms widely) with a word, phrase, or chant (e.g. "Humungous!") This multi-modal experience creates new pathways in the brain for storage and retrieval, and supports students who may have barriers related to auditory processing.
Carefully Choose Visual Cues
Choose cues that are nonintrusive, discreet, non-hostile and fully understood by the student. Discretion is advisable so that cuing does not interrupt the flow of the class or bring negative attention to a student.
Non-Verbal Student Responses
Allow opportunities for students to use Visual Cueing when responding to questions or making requests. Teach students hand signals that can be used to answer yes or no questions during class discussion, as well as when requesting to take breaks or use the restroom.
Tangible Visual Cues
Use different colors of laminated construction paper to cue students. Holding up a green card to instruct students to begin a task or a red card to indicate "stop" may be a clearer signal for students who struggle with interpreting body language and physical gestures.


Hand Signals for Student Requests
Teachers can limit classroom disruption by utilizing hand signals (e.g. American Sign Language) to respond to student requests for bathroom visits or classroom supply needs. Students can also make their requests using hand signals allowing the teacher to know what the student is asking for without having to call on the student and have the student verbally respond.
Volume Regulation
During a small group activity, while students are engaged in hands-on learning and discussion, the vocal volume of the class becomes distracting. The teacher visually cues students to manage their volume by holding up a sign when they are getting too loud (e.g. yellow circle to indicate "slow down")

Related Strategies