Using the WHO-ICF with talking mats to enable adults with long-term communication difficulties to participate in goal setting

Augment Altern Commun. 2012 Mar;28(1):52-60. doi: 10.3109/07434618.2011.653828.


The World Health Organization International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (WHO-ICF) provides a framework that helps rehabilitation staff to take a holistic view of the patient. However, it is used predominantly by professionals rather than by active participation on behalf of the person with the disability. In addition, the language used within the framework can be difficult for patients to understand. In order to address these issues the Activities and Participation section of the ICF has been adapted by using graphic symbols. It has been used in conjunction with Talking Mats(™ 1 ), a low-tech communication framework, to help adults with long-term conditions participate in goal setting. This paper describes how this was done and provides examples from clinical practice. The paper discusses how this combined framework can empower people with communication difficulties and long-term conditions to become active participants in the rehabilitation process by identifying their own goals, indicating changing priorities and tracking their progress.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication
  • Communication Aids for Disabled*
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation*
  • Goals*
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases