Examples of Communication Aids

Below are some examples of communication aids and adaptations used by intermediaries. 

Many of the strategies used by intermediaries to enable people to give their best evidence appear simple. Offering visual choices can often be a powerful tool in assisting communication. Communication aids can be useful if people are highly anxious and find it hard to gather their thoughts. They can also assist children or other people who may not have learnt certain concepts or are no longer able to put their thoughts into words.

For example, a little girl wasn’t able to explain where the person who touched her was sitting, as she had not learnt words like left, right, in front. The intermediary and the police officer worked together and agreed to use a model car with figures, so that she could show where they were instead.
Intermediaries often use a ‘gingerbread man’ drawing so that witnesses can show which part of their body something happened to. This is helpful for witnesses who do not know the word for that body part, or feel too anxious to say. 
Giving evidence in a trial or interview is very demanding. Intermediaries might use a 0-10 line to monitor energy levels or anxiety. They can use this to see if witnesses are still able to concentrate, or if they are feeling too anxious and need a break. 
Intermediaries and barristers often work together to come up with ways to put complex questions into simple language. Typically intermediaries sit right next to the person they are working with: in the witness box, in the video link, or within the dock or court room. That way, they can clearly identify difficulties with communication, alert the court, and suggest potential solutions.
Putting emotions into word involves rather advanced language skills. These skills are something that young children, people with learning disabilities or autism, or even people who are traumatised, often cannot do. Intermediaries have found that, when people find it hard to put their feelings into words and say they ‘don’t know’ how they felt, a simple symbol line can assist them in saying this. 


For more detailed case studies that illustrate the work of intermediaries visit our Resources section here. The case studies can be searched and filtered by the type of case and age of person for relevance.

The following articles also give further insight in to intermediary work: