Oral Communication

The Office of Literacy and Essential Skills has defined 9 skills needed for work, learning and everyday living. Oral Communication is named as one of the skills required that provides the foundation for learning all other skills.

According to the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills,

  • Oral communication pertains primarily to the use of speech to give and exchange thoughts and information.

When a student’s speech is limited due to injury or a disability, high and low technology can help.

High technology to support oral communication

Dynamic Screen devices

Dynamic screen devices provide spoken messages that are activated by touchscreens. The screen can change at the press of a finger to reveal a new screen containing a different set of messages. Hundreds and thousands of different spoken messages can be stored on these devices. These high tech talking devices have more to offer than a dynamic screen. Some allow you to use it for computer based activities including word processing, emailing, internet, etc.

Mobile Devices

Smartphones can be used in a number of ways to assist with oral communications:

  • Communication based apps  can be used that use both symbols and text-to-speech technology
  • Text messaging can be used as a means to communicate
  • Notes can be taken down on the Smartphone to help remember what is communicated

Online chats and video relay

Allows students who use sign language (i.e., individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing) to participate in discussions with other sign language users or to read lips of hearing individuals. For discussion with hearing individuals, the sign language user can respond back by typing into the chat.

Social Networking

Twitter being used in the classroom setting as a way to promote discussion on topics. Social Networking sites can be beneficial for those who are not only shy to speak up in the classroom but also to those who are unable to speak due to disability.

Low technology to support oral communication

Barriers to Oral Communication

Low Technology Solution

Physical conditions affecting speech or hearing

  • Communication Charts, Books, etc. can be used to assist communication by pointing with a finger or using eye gaze to words, photos, and symbols contained in a communication book, charts or boards. Materials that can be used to create this include: Dry erase boards, clipboards, 3 ring binders, manila file folders, photo albums, laminated picture symbols or photographs, higlight tape
  • PECS – Picture Exchange Communication Symbol presents the user with symbols which can relate a full range of spoken vocabulary.
  • Single and multiple messaging devices – consists of single words or phrases that have been recorded by a human speaking into a microphone or are computer generated artificial voices.
  • Speech generating device – any message that is typed in, is read out loud and/or displayed on the display to be seen by others.
  • TTY (Text Telephone)


Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (OLES) is a Canadian organization focused on improving the literacy and essential skills of adult Canadians. OLES provide expertise, project funding, and a wide range of learning tools and other resources.

Tech Matrix – provides information and resources on assistive technology and software used by students and teachers