Total Communication


Total Communication is basically enabling people to communicate effectively with each other.

At Goldfields School we are committed to developing aTotal Communication Environmentwithin our school community to ensure that all students, staff, parents and others who are within our wider school community, all have the opportunity to take a meaningful role within any communicative exchanges.

We are committed to giving our studentsa voice

A voice which will enable them to express choices, views and opinions

One which can be and is heard

Goldfields School has decided to develop a Total Communication Environment to enable our students to communicate with greater understanding, expression and have theirvoicesheard.

  • Within the population of people who havelearning difficulties, only a small percentage of people have recognised literacy skills.

  • Between 50% and 90% of people who have learning disabilities have identified expressive and receptive communication difficulties.

  • Approximately 80% of people who have severe learning disabilities do not acquire effective speech.

  • Approximately 60% of people who have learning disabilities have some skills insymbolic communication, such as signs, pictures or symbols.

  • About 20% of people with learning difficulties have no verbal communication skills but do demonstrate intentional communication.


Adopting a policy of Total Communication will go a long way to addressing the needs of our students, both in terms of literacy and communication in general. It will also further raise the need for the population in general, starting with our own wider school community, to ensure that they improve and develop their own communication skills.

Towards this end the following goals are being worked towards:

  • To identify the preferred expressive and receptive communication means of all students

  • To equip students, family/whanau and staff with the knowledge, skills, equipment and understanding to engage in meaningful communication exchanges both together and in wider society

  • Inherent within this will be the normalisation or everyday use of

    • spoken, written and signed language

    • te reo Māori

    • the use of symbols, pictures and drawings

    • social sight vocabulary usage

    • the use of assistive and augmentative technologies to enable communication exchanges