How do I talk to a person who uses partner assisted scanning?
Learn how with a communication board
- Directly pointing with their finger or hand.
- Using their eyes to point by looking.
- Using a method called partner assisted scanning.
The third option, ‘partner assisted scanning’, is where a person’s communication partner (i.e. the person supporting them) will read out each message on the communication board in a specific way. The person being supported to communicate will indicate when their communication partner understands the message they want to say.
Some people will have a very specific way that they use partner assisted scanning to communicate. However, these tips below give you some strategies that you can use to interact with a person who uses this access method.
1. Introduce yourself
Just like you would to anyone else! A simple “Hey! My name is…” works a lot of the time.
2. Ask the person how they say ‘yes’ and ‘no’
We know that many people will nod their head for ‘yes’ and often shake their head for ‘no’. Some people, however, will say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ differently. It is important that you understand right from the start how a person indicates ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Look for subtle physical or visual cues they might give you if it is not obvious.
Try saying to the person:
“I really want to understand how you communicate. Can you show me how you say ‘yes’ / ’no’?”
Wait for the person to show you. You can then clarify by repeating back to them what you saw to make sure you got it right. For example:
“I saw you look up for ‘yes’. Is that correct?”
3. Ask the person how they like to communicate
Sometimes people with communication difficulties will carry an introduction card with them. This is a card which clearly and simply outlines how that person likes to talk, and what you can do to help make it a successful interaction. It may also state what that person uses to communicate if they have little or no speech. For example, “I use partner assisted scanning to communicate and have a book that I use to get my message across”.
4. If you or the person is having difficulty getting their message across or understanding what is being said, offer to use their communication system or, if you have one, a communication board.
Try saying: “I’m not sure what you’re saying. Can we use your book / this communication board?”
5. Ask the person if they would like you to read out all of the messages on the communication board, and look for their ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.
Some people may have difficulties reading, so it may help if you read out each message on the communication board.
Hold the communication board up in front of you, so that the person can clearly see the whole board.
Starting at the top left hand corner, read each message out loud down the first column. Generally, communication boards will be designed so that the messages flow logically as you read down each column. Next, read all messages in the second, third, fourth etc. columns until you’ve read every message on the board.
Remember to point to each picture on the board, so that the person knows where each message is on the board
6. Once you’ve read out each message, say to the person: “Is what you want to say on this board?” and look for a yes or no response.
7. Next, say “I’m going to read the messages in the first column only. After, I want you to tell me if your message is one of those messages”.
8. Say “Is your message in the first column?”
Carefully watch for the person’s ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.
If the person says ‘yes’
Say “You said ‘yes’, your message was one of those messages. I am going to read each one again, and I want you to tell me ‘yes’ or ‘no’”
This time, read each message ONE AT A TIME. Pause after each message and wait for the person to give you a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response.
When that person indicates ‘yes’ – that is the message they wanted to say! Respond to the person’s message!
If the person says ‘no’
Point and read out each message in the SECOND column only.
See start of point 8 for further instructions.
It’s important to recognise that when talking to a person who uses partner assisted scanning, it may take a bit longer to communicate – and that’s ok! Sometimes people can feel like they’re taking too long or asking unnecessary questions, when really, you’re giving that person respect and allowing them their right to communicate – which is what communication access is all about!
If you’d like more information on how to use communication boards, or find out more about how your business can have customised communication boards developed or be accredited with the Communication Access Symbol, contact Scope’s Communication and Inclusion Resource Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 9843 2000.