Communicating with people with a learning disability

The term learning disabilities covers a range of disabilities, such as autism and Down's Syndrome. A high proportion of people with learning disabilities also have sensory impairments, so the guidelines given in Access for deaf, deafened and hard-of-hearing people and Access for blind and visually impaired people apply.

Many people with learning disabilities can read and prefer to get written information. Others find reading difficult and may prefer information on audio tape or CD.

Make sure you follow the general publication guidance, particularly the use of plain English.

Total communications is a joint project between Hampshire County Council, Hampshire Partnership Trust, Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire Learning Disability Partnership Board, Mencap and Connect Advocacy Group. They have published the following guidelines for writing for people with a learning disability:

Guidelines for producing easy read information Microsoft Word 668kb


Makaton is a signing system, based on British Sign Language, using speech and signing. It is usually used to communicate with people with learning difficulties or communication impairments. There are also Makaton symbols.

More information is available at the Makaton charity website.