Covid-19 Core Communication Boards: A Free Resource for Medical Communication

Core board featuring 60 high frequency words and associated icons. 10 additional words at the bottom feature fringe vocabulary related to COVID-19. TechOWL and Institute on Disabilities at Temple University branding at the bottom of image.

Updated 1/11/2022 to include a Description of Corresponding Icons (below)

Imagine landing in the hospital and being unable to communicate. 

It is important that we are ALL able to talk with our doctors and medical providersEspecially now with the challenges of COVID-19, we need to find the right words to talk about health.  This includes people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

At TechOWL, we want to ensure that everyone has a voice.  The TechOWL team has developed this core board to meet the needs of adults with complex communication needs.  It can also be used by those who are ventilator dependent 

Our advice is to print, glue the board to oaktag or cardboard, and laminate.  If you don’t have a laminator, you can use clear contact paper, or packing tape.  This will make the board sturdy and help to keep it clean. 

It is recommended to sanitize the surface of laminated pages.  Dispose paper versions after use. 

Please share this resource with friends, family, and medical professionals.  No one should go through this pandemic without a voice.  If you live in Pennsylvania, scroll to the bottom of this page to order your FREE laminated board(s).

Click here for printable.

Front of board features core and fringe vocabulary. Back of board features a keyboard.

Covid-19 Core Board User Guide

Click here to download

A description of how to use the Covid19 core board, repeated in text of article.

The text of the user guide is as follows:

Communication Board User Guide

How To Use

  • Get patient’s attention with a gentle touch
  • Make eye contact
  • Use simple language
    • Ask one question at a time
  • Tell the patient to point to words on the page 
  • Give extra time for response

For Patients Who Need Ventilation

  • Go over communication board ahead of time when possible
  • Explain how it works
  • Point out important icons/words
  • Patient can point to words/letters using a pen or stylus
  • Tell patient you will take the time to listen
  • Establish a gesture the patient can use to request the board
    • Share this information with all staff
    • Post in patient’s room


    • Respond to patient’s message even if they can’t have what they want right away
      • They are scared, let them know you will listen
    • Model communication with the board
      • Patient will learn by seeing you use it
    • Remember to respond to nonverbal communication
    • Use all means of communication

Terms Used in the COVID-19 Core Communication Board: Descriptions of Corresponding Icons and Meaning

Click here to download

Covid Communication Board Terms


If you live in Pennsylvania, please order laminated boards here.

Hali Strickler

0 comments on “Covid-19 Core Communication Boards: A Free Resource for Medical Communication

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.