The inability to speak or express oneself can be frustrating and can produce a serious barrier in a patient-physician relationship. This simple and low-cost device allows individuals with disabilities to communicate with care givers and service providers. Not limited to use in rehabilitative services, the Communication Board could also be utilized in nursing homes and intensive care units to allow individuals with disabilities that impair their ability to speak or otherwise communicate to express their needs. This simple device can be utilized even by individuals who have been equipped with high-tech electronic communication systems as it allows for communication of one’s needs during bathing and other hygiene activities when it is not possible to use the high-tech device.
The Communication Board was developed by the Center for International Rehabilitation’s (CIR) Yeongchi Wu, MD in the early 1980s while he was working at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC). Dr. Wu experienced some difficulty communicating with a patient who had sustained a brain stem infarction with resulting quadriplegia. Please see the following for more information: Wu, Y, Voda, J: A User Friendly Communication Board for Nonverbal, Severely Disabled Individuals. Arch Phys. Med. & Rehabil., 66:827-828, 1985.
1. Sheet of paper
2. Pen or other writing utensil
3. Straight-edge or ruler
4. Scissors (optional)
The Communication Board can be drawn by hand using the items listed above, or can be created on a computer using either a spreadsheet program (Excel or similar) or photo editing software (Photoshop, G.I.M.P., or similar) and printed out. The Communication Board is available for download here either as a PDF or an Excel file.