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Patients with communication aids

  • Communication aid - system or device used by people who have difficulties with speech and/or writing. It is one element in the broad field of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).
  • AAC - term used to describe various methods of communication that can ‘add-on’ to speech and are used to get around problems with ordinary speech. AAC includes simple systems such as pictures, gestures and pointing, as well as more complex techniques involving powerful computer technology.

What do I do if a patient is admitted to hospital with a communication aid?

The first thing to remember is that the communication aid is a vital piece of equipment and it belongs to the patient - it is not a 'toy'. It needs to be made available to the patient and not locked away for 'safe keeping'. You don't need to know how the aid works, but you do need to make it available to the patient and listen to what they are saying via the aid.

Some communication aids speak with an electronic, computer voice. Don't be afraid to say that you can't understand the electronic voice - ask the patient to repeat; it can take a bit of time to 'tune in' to the voice. Sometimes the electronic voices are difficult to hear in a noisy environment, ask the patient if you can read the text on the screen, and ask them to repeat the message.

Security issues

  • Check any equipment is clearly named in case it gets misplaced.
  • Inform the person in charge of the ward about the aid.
  • If an aid is being charged overnight, check who is responsible for it.


If the communication aid doesn't work or if you have difficulties with it, contact the family/carer or the Speech and Language Therapy Department.