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Barriers to communication

Communication speech bubble

Barriers are anything which stop something from happening.

Barriers to communication are:

  • Use of jargon (words that are unfamiliar to you)
  • Lack of attention/ interest
  • Disabilities, such as hearing
  • Language differences

Below is a case study, read through it and then answer the questions.

Case study #1

Mr Ahmed is the father of two young children. He is able to speak English but he sometimes finds it difficult to understand if someone is speaking fast or using complex language. Mr Ahmed is attending his son Imran’s primary school for a meeting with the Head of Year. Imran is 10 years old and will soon move up to secondary school, so his parents need to think about which school he will go to. This is very important because Imran has learning difficulties and will need some help in his lessons.

The Head of Year is Mrs Thomas who has lived in Wales for much of her life and only started working in England a couple of years ago. Mrs Thomas talks with quite a strong Welsh accent.

Mr Ahmed wants to know how much help Imran will get when he goes to his new school. At the moment he has a teaching assistant who helps him with his spoken and written language.

Mrs Thomas is explaining that they don’t have teaching assistants at the secondary school but they do have LSPs.


What is making communication difficult for Mr Ahmed?

What might Mr Ahmed find difficult to understand in his conversation with the teacher? What might she need to explain further?

What can the teacher do to help Mr Ahmed understand her better? Can you suggest things she could do or say?

Case study #2

A cataract is a clouding of part of your eye called the lens. This causes the vision to become blurred because the cataract is like a frosted glass. Mr Uddin is 70 years old and is beginning to loose his sight due to cataracts. He has come into the hospital for some tests. You meet Mr Uddin in reception.


What could you do to help with Mr Uddin’s communication with people in the hospital?

How could staff help him?