SPEACS-2 Communication Skills Training

Learners will be able to apply cognitive, sensory, and motor assessment findings to select appropriate strategies and low tech assistive communication tools to facilitate comprehension and expression of messages among nonvocal patients.
  1. Discuss communication difficulties experienced by nonspeaking critically ill patients
  2. Describe assessment of communication needs based on patient’s abilities: cognitive, sensory and motor.
  3. List and apply assistive communication strategies for patients with varied cognitive and motor abilities
System Requirements:

Windows computers with Chrome, Firefox, or Edge.

Mac computers with Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

Adobe Flash Player is no longer submitted. If you have issues viewing the HTML5 version of the modules, try a different web browser.

Criteria for successful completion:
To complete the program for CE an evaluation of the program must be completed and you must achieve a passing score of 70% on the post-test to receive a certificate.

The faculty and planning committee have no conflicts of interest to declare.

There are no commercial sponsors/support being provided to this program.

Register for CE credits:

Click here to register with free COVID19 code and earn CE credits.

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This program has been reviewed and meets the criteria for one hour of Continuing Education. The Ohio State University College of Nursing is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation. You may complete the program without CE credit by moving directly to the modules. Click on the blue square slide to start.

Contact hour for this independent study will expire June 1, 2024.

    ↑   See Communication Tools for additional helpful resources

module 1

Module 1. Introduction and Communication Assessment

This module introduces the training program and the problem of communication difficulty in the ICU. The SPEACS assessment algorithm and categories of communication function are presented with video illustrations and commentary. You will need the assessment algorithm and categorization to understand how to best use the communication strategies and tools presented throughout this program.

Download and print the algorithm from the ‘Communication Tools’ menu and use this as reference for rest of the program.


module 2

Module 2. General Comprehension Support

This module shows you ways to help patients better understand your questions and instructions. Assessing vision, hearing, and language and finding a clear Yes-No response are the first steps. You will learn approaches for (1) brief sensory and language assessment and (2) establishing a consistent Yes-No response with critically ill patients.


module 3

Module 3. Comprehension Support for Cognitively Impaired Patients

This module shows you ways to help patients who are cognitively impaired due to delirium, fatigue, sedation, or neuromuscular impairment understand your questions and instructions. Video examples show “how to” perform these techniques.


module 4

Module 4. Patient Communication Strategies: Unaided

This module introduces ways to support and better understand the nonvocal patient’s natural or “unaided” communication techniques, such as gestures or mouthing words. Video exemplars illustrate best practice recommendations.


module 5

Module 5. Patient Communication Strategies: Writing and Spelling

This module presents assessment, materials and approaches to support writing and spelling with an alphabet board patient communication strategies.

You can download and print Alphabet board templates from the Communication Tools menu.


module 6

Module 6. Patient Communication Strategies: Simple and Complex Communication Boards

This module demonstrates communication strategies useful for patients with functional impairments in movement or attention. The role of the Speech Language Pathologist is presented as a resource for patient communication in the ICU.

You can download and print Picture or Eye Gaze (eye tracking) Communication board templates from the Communication Tools menu.