Impacts of Communication

Impacts of disability

Activities and participation

Our enjoyment of life comes from the activities we do and the things we participate in.

Communication and connecting to other people is a key part our daily activities.

People with communication difficulties can face barriers to activities that other people take for granted. For some people, chatting, sending an email, ordering a coffee, asking for directions, joining in a video call, etc., can be challenging.

This can prevent people with communication difficulties participating in education, work and leisure.

The silence of speechlessness is never golden. We all need to communicate and connect with each other – not just in one way, but in as many ways as possible. It is a basic human need, a basic human right. And more than this, it is a basic human power …

Bob Williams, long-time communication advocate and co-founder of CommunicationFIRST, Source.

Learning at school and beyond

Communication provides the building blocks for learning at school and later in life. It is also part of learning literacy and numeracy.

A person with communication difficulties may experience barriers to:

  • achieving at school or further study
  • showing what they know
  • relating to teachers and peers
  • participating in group activities
  • expressing needs, abilities and interests
  • developing a positive self-concept
  • learning appropriate ways to behave in different contexts.

When the difficulty is not obvious to others, it can be an even bigger barrier.

According to Speech Pathology Australia, over 80% of children  with emotional and behavioural problems have communication difficulties, but often this is not identified.

Karen describes the learning experience of her young son who has communication difficulties

‘They were punishing him because he couldn’t understand instructions. He was feeling frustrated.’


Work provides us with personal expression, satisfaction, self-worth and income.

People with communication difficulties have the same need and goals for working as everyone else. However, they more often experience barriers to work opportunities.

The Australians Living with Communication Disability report found only 37.5% of adults who had communication difficulties were in the labour force. This compares with 55.6% of people with other types of disability, and 83.2% of those without disability.

Workplaces have a responsibility to support communication access for customers and for the workers. 

Job Access provides information and personal stories to help workplaces understand and overcome barriers faced by people with communication difficulties.

Recreation, sport and leisure activities

People with communication difficulties can face barriers to participating in recreation, sport and leisure activities.

This means they can miss out on all the physical and mental health benefits, as well as the fun and enjoyment. It can also limit opportunity for social connections and friendships.

Encouragingly, more and more recreational and sporting organisations are becoming aware of the many ways to make sure everyone, including those with communication difficulties, can take part.


Self-confessed ‘adrenalin junkie’ talking about the isolating impacts of communication difficulties

‘I think it’s pretty important to communicate with people so you can get your point across or talk to them and not be, like, isolated, just by yourself.’

Learn more

Face the facts: Disability Rights supports the right of everyone to be an active member of their community and to have a say in the decisions that affect their lives.