Scenario 1: Communication skills for working with people with ID in the context of health care and wellness encounters

Eight years into her professional career, a former LEND trainee is directing an interdisciplinary team at a new health transition program. Her staff will be working with youth and young adults with ID as they transition to adult health settings. What resources can she consult to assure that they have the necessary communication skills?

Delivering the highest quality services and supports for people with intellectual (ID) requires skillful communication. The resources listed below provide guidance and training concerning eliminating communication barriers.


Title:  Communicating Effectively (2011)

Source:  Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s Health Care for Adults with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities: Toolkit for Primary Care Providers

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Description:  “Some people with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) have communication difficulties.  People with intellectual disabilities or those whose disabilities directly affect speech, hearing, or sight are more likely to have communication difficulties… Even when a communication difficulty exists, the exact barrier and the best way to address it often varies”

Title:  Disability Competent Care

Source:  Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing

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Description:  This website provides videos and references concerning the healthcare experience for people with disabilities; core values of disability competent care; disability competent communication access; and disability competent physical access.

Title:  Effective Communication for Health Care Providers:  a guide to caring for people with disabilities (Riddle, Romelczyk and Sparling, 2011)

Source: Center for Disability Studies, University of Delaware

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Description:  “Disability can impact communication. Identifying a patient’s disability and its potential impact on effective communication is the first step in reducing the risk of miscommunication. The type of disability – whether intellectual, sensory, mobility or mental health – will help determine the kind of accommodation needed.”

Title:  Six Videos on Communicating with people with disabilities

Source:  Institute for Community Inclusion at UMass Boston and the National Service Inclusion Project

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Description:  This series of six very short videos (Ask me First, Accessible Places, Making Accommodations, Talk to Me Please, What are you saying?, Summary and Conclusion) is both instructional and engaging.

Title:  Visit to the Occupational Therapist/Social Worker Communication Training (2013) (Video:  8 minutes 40 seconds)

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Source:  Mercy College and the LEND Program at Westchester Institute for Human Development

Description:  This video scenario provides tips and strategies for health professionals to communicate effectively and respectfully with people with ID.  The video is moderated by Mitch Levitz, Self-advocacy Coordinator at Westchester Institute for Human Development.

Title:  Tips for Health Care Professionals (2013) (Video:  6 minutes 33 seconds)

Source:  The Arc’s Autism Now

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Description:  Nicole LeBlanc of Self-Advocates Becoming Empowered (SABE) provides tips on how health care professionals working with people with autism and other developmental disabilities can make the health care experience more accessible.

Title:  Disability Healthcare Training- Healthcare Access for Persons with Disabilities (On-Demand Presentations)

Source:  Ohio Disability and Health Program at The Ohio State University Nisonger Center University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities

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Description:  “These courses are designed to increase the capacity of health care providers to provide quality healthcare for persons with disabilities. Part I: Persons with Physical and Sensory Disabilities (WB2695) and Part II: Persons with Developmental Disabilities (WD2564) trainings present various disability issues, serving to strengthen participants’ competence in physical/sensory and developmental disabilities.” These courses “are approved for continuing education by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for physicians, nurses, certified health education specialists and other health professionals.”

Title:  ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act] Requirements:  Effective Communication (2014)

Source:  The United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section

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Description:  “People who have vision, hearing, or speech disabilities –‘communication disabilities’- use different ways to communicate… The ADA requires that title II entities (State and local governments) and title III entities (businesses and nonprofit organizations that serve the public) communicate effectively with people who have communication disabilities. The goal is to ensure that communication with people with these disabilities is equally effective as communication with people without disabilities. This publication is designed to help title II and title III entities (‘covered entities’) understand how the rules for effective communication, including rules that went into effect on March 15, 2011, apply to them…”