Approach and methodology

We assess each client's communication needs and abilities

We try to find the most empowering means of communication for people with little or no speech and no alternative means of communication (a symbol board or a few manual signs, for example)—a chance to try out more powerful alternatives, such as speech synthesisers.

We establish training programs to improve clients' skills.

What we also offer

We loan communication aids so people can practice their skills to make informed decisions about selecting equipment.

Our staff visits Melbourne schools, adult day programs, nursing homes and regularly visits some Victorian country centres. If you make special arrangements, our team can also visit facilities interstate.

We assist Victorians to obtain free electronic communication devices up to a value of $7,000 through the government-funded Aids and Equipment Program.

We deliver seminars and workshops on aspects of augmentative communication at tertiary institutions, schools and centres - just ask us.


Confident, at last. Happy, at last. Smiling, at last.

One month after his first visit, the Anne McDonald Centre helped Elias demonstrate how well he reads, types and comprehends. The days of isolation for this nonverbal autistic little boy are over.

Here are some of the tools that we use

Speech therapy

Speech therapy by a therapist with Prompt and Augmentative Communication training.

Working on hand skills

Including index finger pointing and eye-hand co-ordination. Children whose hand skills are unlikely ever to allow them to write or use regular keyboards should be starting to use alternatives.


Signing and gestures.

Yes and No signals

Ideally these should be used without assistance, and not require any technology e.g., nod/shake, eye blinks, hand movements. Yes/no boards should be available for all children who do not have clear no-tech yes/no responses.


Picture-elicited communication. Sets of cards with pictures of common items are mounted in accessible locations. The child removes the card showing a wanted item and takes it to an adult.  Alternative set-ups will be needed for children with severe motor problems.

Multiple choice boards

White boards on which options are written or mounted quickly for fist or eye pointing.

Symbol boards or book

Collections of pictures and symbols such as Picsyms arranged according to subject which may be used to make comments and express feelings, as well as asking for things. Depending on the child these may be used by finger or fist pointing (with or without facilitation) or with eye pointing. Larger boards are more easily carried by children who use wheelchairs.

ABC boards

Cards with the alphabet written on them in letters and layouts which have been chosen to suit the visual and hand function of individual users.

Step-by-Step, Cheaptalk, Chatbox, GoTalk

A Simple voice output devices - devices on which a limited number of utterances is recorded by a speaking person and accessed by fist or finger pointing – e.g. Cheaptalk, Voice Pal or Message Mate, Go Talk

Modified computers

Keyboards with guards to prevent two letters being hit at the same time; Enlarged keyboards to cater for people who cannot see or point accurately to small targets e.g. Intellikeys; Miniature keyboards for people with limited range of movement; Software which speaks the text typed, e.g. Intellitalk, or which reads the screen; Computers which cater for children who cannot use their hands to type, which are operated either by eye-gaze or one or two switches.

Exposure to literature

As well as regular story reading, computer-based activities using software/hardware such as Intellitalk and Intellikeys, and books on CD-ROM are valuable - especially for children who cannot hold pencils or turn pages. Google Tarheel Reader to find an excellent on-line literacy resource, consisting of short picture books which are read aloud. The site is accessible to children who cannot turn pages or use a mouse.

Indexed communication books

Booklets containing words and phrases (with or without pictures) which are relevant to the user.