People with disability have the right to express themselves, to share their opinions and ideas and to seek, get and give information through all forms of communication of their choice.  This includes through accessible formats and technologies at no additional cost to them, through sign languages, Braille, augmentative and alternative communication, mass media and all other accessible means of communication.

(Article 21, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities)


We all have a need to connect and communicate with others. People with developmental disability may have difficulty making themselves understood and understanding other people but everyone can communicate and everyone can learn to communicate in ways that are more easily understood if they get the right support.

It is not only people with developmental disability who need support to do this – their family members, carers, friends and the professionals who work with them all need to have good information, training and support to learn the best ways to communicate together. Without the right support, unmet communication support needs will affect every area of a person’s life from getting a good education, to appropriate health care, employment, positive relationships, social support and personal safety.

DDWA believes that communication is a fundamental human right.  DDWA is working to improve information and advice for people with developmental disability who have complex communication needs as well as for their families and supporters.

Complex Communication Support for Individuals & Families

DDWA is working to improve information and advice for people with developmental disability who have complex communication support needs, and for their families and supporters.

People with communication disability can be helped through a range of different print and symbol based materials, and on our website you will find a range of different resources in different formats.

If you have any questions or need any assistance with accessing or using resources, please call us on 9420 7203 or email

Eli and Gill in an office laughing

DDWA Services

Support Coordination - DDWA can assist you to engage with services that will support you to communicate.

Advocacy - DDWA can advocate for your rights to communicate.

Adult man with down syndrome and a caregiver

Online Education

Supported Decision Making

This free online learning resource of two video modules, provides general information to guide the process of supporting decision making for a person with an intellectual disability. The information in this resource is for supporters who may include; parents, friends, family members, support workers, team leaders, coordinators and allied health professionals.

diagram of supported decision making across a spectrum

Useful links

Here you will find blog posts, resources, podcasts and information to help you to get started on exploring and understanding ways for your loved one to express themselves more easily.

Communication Before Speech 

A post from Uncommon Sense Blog, written by mum, former primary school teacher and now certified Speech Pathologist Dana Nieder about her daughter’s journey towards communication.  Dana hopes that the information in her post will directly benefit your child (or grandchild, or friend’s child, or cousin) by helping you communicate together before, without, or whilst they are developing speech.

Communication Chart

A useful person-centred tool developed by Helen Sanderson Associates to help you notice, understand and share the different ways a person communicates and what they are trying to communicate whether or not they use words.

Communication: The Sky’s The Limit

A video recording of Jane Farrall’s plenary session presentation at the Angelman UK Communication and Literacy Conference 2019.  Jane Farrall is a passionate Australian speech pathologist, teacher and consultant who is in high demand all over the world in the areas of communication, AAC and Literacy.

Supported Decision-Making When You Cannot Speak

This 7-minute read from AssistiveWare explains how supported decision-making helps people who have difficulty communicating to have more control over their life.

3 Strategies to Support Choice and Control
All people who struggle with communication can be supported to make their own decisions. This 8-minute read from AssistiveWare suggests tools and strategies that can help.

What is AAC?

An introductory 7-minute read to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) by AssistiveWare.  It includes what AAC is, who it is for and the benefits of using AAC.

4 Things Every AAC System Needs

An 8-minute read from AssistiveWare to help you understand quickly what to look for when selecting an AAC system.

What is a Robust Vocabulary in AAC?

This blog post from Kate Ahern, teacher, AAC specialist, and educational describes what is meant by a “robust vocabulary” – a term often used to talk about AAC that is not always well explained.

Project Core: Quick Start Guide

Is your child not yet using speech, sign language or symbols to communicate with you and others? Is your child learning a communication system at school that is not available for use at home? Is your child an adult with difficulty communicating and little support to do so? If you answered yes to either of these questions, Project Core may be able to help.  This quick start guide to Project Core will help you explore the Project Core website that includes free to download and print resources and free to view online-learning modules.

Reducing Vulnerability for Non-Speaking People

People with disability are more vulnerable to all forms of abuse. This 5-minute read from AssistiveWare explains the factors that make people who cannot rely on speech more vulnerable and suggests ways to help prevent abuse.

Planning for AAC in Medical Settings

Poor communication support in health and medical settings can have tragic but avoidable consequences.   This 7-minute read from AssistiveWare gives tips on how to safeguard communication for AAC users in these settings.

Why Literacy Matters for People with Significant Disability: Talking with Tech

A two-part conversation between Erin Sheldon (parent of a child with significant disability, teacher, consultant and advocate) and Dr. Karen Erickson (Director of the Centre for Literacy and Disability Studies, University of North Carolina) shared as episodes 148 and 149 on the Talking with Tech podcast. If you are time poor, we recommend you start listening to the conversation between Erin and Karen when it begins:

Communication Access Introduction Cards

These free to download cards from Scope Australia support people with complex communication needs to easily share information with new people to quickly explain how others can best assist them to understand or express themselves.

Communication Bill of Rights

Design by Laura Jones, DDWA, 2022 based on the NJC Communication Bill of Right (ASHA, 2016) and the Accessible Communication Bill of Rights (Kate Ahern, 2017) and Bri Bolin’s (2022) Communication Bill of Rights poster using graphics by Drawn to AAC on Canva.