Communication Supports in Exercising Capacity, Choice and Autonomy

Sessions Details Team < Back

This resource is about the communication supports people may need to control what happens in their lives and to express preferences, choices and decisions that matter to them.

It addresses CDAC’s interpretation of Article 12 in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) which states that people have a right to make decisions that affect them and to have the necessary supports they need to do so. Canada ratified the CRPD in 2010 and has an obligation to implement it.

We describe a range of communication supports that people who have disabilities may require regardless of whether they make a decision independently; with assistance from other people or whether they rely on another person to make a decision on their behalf.

Please note that our organization does not address the needs of people who are Deaf or have significant hearing loss.


This resource will of be interest to a wide audience including:

  • People who have communication disabilities, their families and support persons
  • Professionals who work in community services, such as healthcare, legal, financial and justice services
  • Public guardians and trustees
  • Capacity assessors
  • Human rights lawyers
  • Disability support services
  • Speech-Language Pathologists
  • Augmentative Communication Clinicians.


With contributions from people who have a diverse range of experiences and qualifications in communication disabilities, legislation and accessibility (see bios on team members), this resource includes sessions on:

  1. Communication and Capacity: Context and Guiding Principles
  2. Communication Disabilities: Barriers and Impact on Autonomy and Control
  3. Legal Context for Communication Supports
  4. Communication Supports for people who speak, or who use pictures, symbols, letter boards or devices.
  5. Communication Supports for people who communicate primarily using body language, vocalizations and behaviours.

Learning Objectives

You will learn about:

  • The impact of communication barriers on exercising capacity and autonomy.
  • The legal context for the provision of communication supports to exercise autonomy.
  • Identifying and providing communication strategies, tools and assistance to support understanding, expression and decision making.
  • Supports to recognize and facilitate the expression of choice and preference for people who communicate primarily through body language, vocalizations and behaviours.
  • Guidelines for developing communication support policies, practices and documentation.


  • The resource is online and can be taken anytime.
  • Each session contains slides with text, audio and captioned videos.
  • Handouts include transcriptions of the audio content, copies of the slides and supplemental resources.

Taking the sessions

  • You need a computer, or tablet and a good internet connection.
  • You can choose the sessions that interest you.  However, we recommend moving through the sessions and slides in chronological order.
  • Download the handouts before you begin.
  • Listen to the audio or read the audio narrative as not all content is reflected on the slides.
  • Please take a moment to complete the feedback form at the end of each session.
  • There is no certificate of attendance.

Funding Acknowledgment

Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) acknowledges a funding contribution for this resource from the Government of Canada’s Employment and Social Development Canada.

Using this Resource

This online resource can only be accessed on the CDAC learning system.  Handouts and forms may be duplicated with appropriate citation to Communication Disabilities Access Canada.  No slides and video clips can be extracted or used outside of the CDAC online resource.  For permission to translate any parts of the resource, please contact


Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC) is solely responsible for the information in this webinar series. In this resource, statements about the right to make and participate in decision making and to get communication supports to do so, are based on CDAC’s interpretation of Article 12 in the CRPD. Information provided in the resource is not intended to be legal or clinical advice. Please consult a lawyer or legal worker if you need legal advice on a specific matter. Please consult a Speech-Language Pathologist or Augmentative Communication Clinician if you need clinical services.

Links to other sites and resources are provided as a convenience to visitors and are current as of the date posted. The inclusion of a product or link on this website does not constitute an official endorsement, guarantee, or approval by CDAC.