Importance of Nonverbal Communication

Persons experiencing difficulty with speech or language may utilize one or more types of nonverbal communication. These may be formal or informal. One example of non-verbal communication frequently encountered is the use of sign language. Sign language represents a formal language system. There are other forms of non-verbal communication, however, that are not based on language. Some are common experience and include gestures, vocalizations (e.g., crying, groaning), and the written word (text). In addition, some individuals may use picture symbols, photos, manipulation of objects, or physical manipulation of a person in order to signify meaning. Use of nonverbal cues is not limited, of course, to persons with disabilities. Children frequently employ non-verbal communication before language development, or when intimidated by a strange setting; and adults use nonverbal cues, as well, to supplement their intended meanings.

It is important for healthcare providers to consider non-verbal cues as a viable form of communication when working with persons with disabilities.

Venkatagiri, H.S. (2002). Clinical implications of an augmentative and alternative communication taxonomy. Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 18(1), 1-24.