Inclusion in Mainstream Health Services: Using Visuals for people with intellectual disability


This project aims to improve communication between people with disabilities and health professionals in busy mainstream healthcare environments by developing and evaluating the use of visuals.


Using visual aids for people with intellectual disability in  busy healthcare environments can assist with communication and allay fear and confusion for the person undergoing routine procedures such as dental examination, having bloods taken and a physical examination.  Simple visual aids which can be readily accessed by consumers, carers and staff and adapted to the individual situation will enhance the interaction with health services and benefit health outcomes for people with intellectual disability.


Children with intellectual disability (ID) and other developmental disabilities (DD) experience significant barriers to accessing the healthcare system, yet have higher rates of many treatable health conditions compared to the mainstream population. There are many factors contributing to this, with a key issue being communication barriers between patients and health professionals.


  1. Stage 1: to develop 3 sets of visuals, that describe physical examination, taking blood and visiting the dentist.
  2. Stage 2:
    • Train staff and trial the use of the visuals in a busy health care context, in this case Emergency Department at Children’s Hospital Westmead.
    • Needs analysis to determine existing experience, knowledge and skills around use of visuals,
    • Evaluation of training package for nurses and doctors, and, of staff and parents experience with use of visuals in ED
  3. Stage 3: to explore how wider use of these, and other, visuals within health care services can be achieved


Key Dates

Pilot Sites

Implementation Sites


Evaluation has been inbuilt throughout the development of the project, including carer and consumer feedback. The training package is being evaluated by staff and families. A longer term implementation evaluation will be conducted.

Related Initiatives

Further Details


Tracey Szanto
Manager, Intellectual Disability
02 9464 4632

Chris Shipway
Director, Primary Care and Chronic Services
02 9464 4603

Page Top | Added: 10 July 2015 | Last modified: 10 July 2015