Communication Boards

Image of language arts core board

Communication Boards and Picture Resources

 Edited 12/06/18: Core boards for math and language arts added.

Center-based Core for Symbol-Supported Learning in the Classroom

This post has always contained core boards for use at the library, or in cooking.  I thought it might be useful to have more boards focused on academics. But what core do we need for centers in the classroom?  To select words, I went to Gail Van Tatenhove’s website:  Gail Van Tatenhove

Her website is a great resource for anyone working with AAC. Her Resources folder contains core vocabulary lists, including one for academics.  I used this list as a guide to choosing “academic core vocabulary”. I have created two new core boards: one for math and one for language arts.  Feedback is welcome on how these boards could be ‘tweeked’ to better meet the needs of teachers, therapists, and learners.

Math Core

Language Arts Core

Sample Core Communication Boards

Here are some sample Core Communication and activity-based core language boards in PDF format. Print and go, or use one of the formats below to modify and make them your own. You can embed core into daily activities, such as bath time. Mount or print you board on oak tag, laminate and go!  No laminator?  Cover with clear contact paper or clear packing tape.

More Core!  Here are graduated core boards to support learning for the 20 location board below.  Click on the PDF files to open.

More Core!  Here are graduated core boards to support learning for the 63 location board below.  Click on the PDF files to open.

Out in the Community

High Contrast Communication Board

The Core Communication Flip Book

Some teams may be concerned that an individual will break or damage a high tech communication device.  Where do we start in such a case?  There are low tech options that provide access to both fringe and core vocabulary, including the Core Communication Flip Book.

The pages can be laminated and placed into a 1/2 inch binder.  The core board stays whole, but the fringe rows can be cut apart so that they “flip” at the top of the binder!  This allows the core to be accessible at all times.  Two core boards are available for this; one with some core vocabulary masked, and one with all spaces filled.  It can be helpful to start with masking vocabulary and introducing fewer words in the very beginning.  Just don’t get ‘stuck’ there.  People with CCDs need access to robust vocabularies.

Flip Book Core 24 Hidden

Flip Book Core 24 full

Flip Book Fringe 1 inch p 1

Flip Book Fringe 1 inch page 2

Here is another version of the Core Flip Book, with slightly larger icons in a field size of 18.  Keep in mind that we want to use the smallest icons size (most icons per page) that our student/adult can access.  More icons means access to more language.

Flip Book 18 Core Page Masked

Flip Book 18 Core Page Full

Flip Book Fringe 1.5 inch

Boardmaker Format

Trial Version Download:

Boardmaker Share
A materials exchange area sponsored by Mayer-Johnson. There are TONS of great communication boards, visual supports, interactive activities, etc.

Library Communication Boards – NJSHA

The New Jersey Speech-Language Hearing Association offers downloads of Pediatric and Adult communication boards for the library.

CALL Centre for Environmental Studies
This site has sets of BoardMaker topic boards, each with 8 symbol locations, and each filled with core vocabulary relating to common themes and topics

ACE Centre – Look2Talk templates
You must go to the section where it says download or order for the templates for this structured system of communication intervention model. This teaching process offers a defined and sequential way for students who were non-speaking to advance to ever-higher levels of language and communication.

.pdf Format

Speaking of Speech
Speaking of Speech is an interactive forum for speech/language pathologists and teachers. It includes a materials exchange where you will find a section dedicated to Augmentative Communication.

Has a variety of communication boards and visual supports for choice making, activities, schedules, reminders, etc.

Children with Special Needs
The downloadable .pdf files provide some of the basic/beginners pictures to help get you started implementing the picture exchange communication system.

Wigit Software Activity Packs
There are a few boards that are listed for basic vocabulary, feelings and emotions. Look for the Adobe .pdf icon for the free stuff or consider purchasing their software for access to all of their other great free activities.

Cue Cards in Community Languages
Cue Cards is a new resource developed by Eastern Health Transcultural Services to assist health professionals and clients / carers who primarily have English language difficulties, or problems communicating with each other.

Other Formats and Create Your Own

Fluent AAC

Choose from four avatars and four size options to create your own communication board. Communication boards include both core and fringe vocabulary with categories for food, actions, questions etc.  Downloadable as a PDF.

SEN Teacher
This site includes a free resource for creating low-tech communication board, as well as a list of other downloadable aided language displays.

Black and white picture cards are provided to help you make your own schedules, story strips and talking back cards. They can be printed as full-size coloring pages, in two-inch sizes with or without words, and in one-inch sizes with or without words. Printed and cut out, these can be used singly or grouped together.
Visuals can be presented in several formats, depending on your child’s level of understanding. When creating your communication display or board, you can select from photographs, Mayer-Johnson icons or import your own images. The boards can be saved as a .pdf or printed immediately.

Picto-selector is a Windows application written for easy selection and printing of Pictos. The Pictos come from the website, and ARASAAC and have a Dutch, English, French and Spanish translation. The application itself also supports those languages.

Eye-gaze Systems

Cogain Eye-gaze communication board
Gaze Communication Board or Eye Communication Frame is a cheap, fast, easy-to-use eye communication method. There are several options that can be bought from stores that sell communication aids and assistive technology, such as the “E-tran (eye transfer) frame.” This site has a thorough description of how to recreate this eye-gaze system and includes pictures and diagrams.

CALL Centre Handout: Eye Pointing and Using an Etran Frame

Color-coding Systems

Using color-coding for the background of icons or line drawings (e.g., Mayer Johnson picture communication symbols) allows the user and facilitator to locate symbols more easily. If color-coding is organized according to grammatical categories, the user has an added feature to assist in learning how to sequence symbols, and in turn, to support the development of sentence-building or syntax skills

Fitzgerald Key (seen on several high-tech communication devices, apps on tablets and autism community) was originally designed to teach deaf children to sequence sentences according to traditional spoken English word order.

Word categories are colored to correspond with the Fitzgerald Key (Fitzgerald, 1954) format – People = yellow; Verbs = green; Little Words = pink; Words That Tell About = blue; Things and Foods = orange; and Places = purple. Word morphology buttons are colored to match the part of speech with which they are typically associated. For example, the possessive noun command button is colored yellow, as it is used with people. The Noun Plural command button is orange, as it is typically used with things.

Goosens’, Craine and Elders Color-coding System is also used by many well-known AAC professionals, additional information can be found at

Kathryn Helland

Kathryn is a certified speech-language pathologist and works with children and adults with complex communication needs. She has been with the TechOWL team since 2015 and is currently working on her doctorate. She would like to examine how to best support AAC users in higher education.

10 comments on “Communication Boards

  1. I am a second grade teacher and I would like to try this with my autistic student. Is there a printable board or book boards I could start with. Thanks so much!!

    1. Hi Stacey! These posts on communication boards include links to the PDFs for each board. You are more than welcome to print them out and use them with your students! Let me know if you have any difficulty with this.

  2. I was searching for a basic communication tool for my husband. I was pleased to find this one is downloadable. Thanks.

    1. Virginia, you are very welcome! Let us know how else we can help. If you are a resident of Pennsylvania, you can borrow speech-generating apps and devices at Feel free to contact me if you would like more information about Augmentative Communication.

  3. I have watched all your communication boards, and I’m very impressed. They are exactly what I need, but I have a problem. I need the boards in Spanish.

    Do you know any way, that I can get these or similar boards in Spanish.

    Thank you for your help.

    Jorn Rosenkilde

    1. Hi Jorn, Some of the AAC app companies produce light tech core boards in Spanish. Here are a few resources that I found:

      If these do not meet your needs, email me at

      Och, visst är du dansk? Jag talar svenska!


  4. Hi my name is Teresa wade and I’m trying to find a communication board that will speak for my granddaughter because she cant talk something that when she touches a picture that can tell me what she wants

    1. Hi Theresa, it sounds like you may want to try out a speech generating device. If you are in Pennsylvania, you can go the the website and click borrow. If you are in another state, go to to find your state’s AT Act program. I am more than happy to talk with you and help you brainstorm what might work for your granddaughter. My email is
      Communication boards don’t speak, but can be a great way to start working on communication. You can print them for free off the AACCommunity website.

  5. Hi, Can you please give me an email address? I’d like to email to request your permission to use some of these boards in therapy. Thank you!

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