Key Word Signing (KWS) is a valuable communication tool designed to support individuals of varying ages who experience difficulties in expressing themselves and comprehending others. It serves to bridge the communication gap and enable effective interaction. KWS particularly benefits children and adults with speech impairments, language delays, or other communication challenges.
Unlike traditional sign language, KWS does not constitute an independent language system. Instead, it utilises signs borrowed from the sign language prevalent in the country. In the case of Australia, KWS incorporates signs from Auslan (Australian Sign Language). By adopting Auslan signs, KWS facilitates communication for individuals with communication difficulties, allowing them to rely on a recognised and established sign vocabulary.
KWS acts as a supportive tool, enhancing understanding and aiding in conveying messages. It enables individuals to supplement their spoken language with signs, making their communication more accessible and comprehensive to both their peers and others. By using signs in conjunction with spoken words, KWS can assist individuals in expressing their needs, thoughts, and emotions more effectively, fostering better connections and reducing frustration in communication interactions.
When using Key Word Signing:
- Always use speech together with the sign
- Speak in normal, grammatical sentences
- Sign only the keywords in the sentence
- Use facial expressions and body language
- Use natural gestures
Benefits of KWS
- Gestures are easier to produce than speech
- Promotes speech attempts & communication success
- Assists others in understanding speech
- Reduces frustration by allowing the person to express needs
- Provides visual information to accompany speech
- Signs last longer than speech – support understanding
- Signs often look like what they mean (iconic)
When do we use KWS?
All the time! At Optimum Health Solutions, our staff uses Key Word Signing (KWS) to communicate with clients with communication difficulties. We recognise the importance of effective interaction, and incorporating KWS into our conversations enhances understanding and ensures clients can express themselves comfortably. Our staff are trained to integrate signs and natural gestures with spoken language, allowing us to effectively support clients in getting their messages across. This continuous use of KWS fosters better communication and enables us to provide personalised and comprehensive care to all our clients.
Learn Some Signs:
Here are several commonly used signs that you can practice.
Remember to practice these signs while incorporating them into your verbal communication.
Useful Links and Resources
- Optimum Health Solutions – OHS Speech Pathology and related services.
- KWS Australia – Key Word Sign Australia (kwsa.org.au) provides more information about using KWS, access to resources and training opportunities.
- Signbank – Signbank (auslan.org.au) is a dictionary of sign productions, type in the sign you are looking for and view the video demonstration of its production.