About Talking Mats

People all ages

Talking Mats is a research-based tool to help people think about a topic or issue, and communicate their opinions, ideas and preferences more effectively.  This visual framework helps in two main ways:

  • Talking Mats makes communication easier for people with communication difficulties, and
  • Talking Mats helps to make difficult communication situations easier. 

Talking Mats is a tool to facilitate expression of opinion, choices, ideas and preferences.  If you believe that every individual has the right to communicate, then this is an invaluable tool towards achieving this. It works within a partnership structure where the "thinker" creates a "Talking Mat" around a topic, issue or question.  The "listener" utilises specific strategies to provide a safe, non-judgemental context for the interaction.  The "thinker" may be a person who verbalises and manipulates the symbol cards or the "thinker" may have limited speech or a Complex Communication Need (CNN) and may indicate where to place the symbols cards. Talking Mats is an innovative and award-winning communication symbol-based tool under-pinned by extensive research and designed by Speech and Language Therapists in Scotland. It uses unique, specially designed picture communication symbols that are attractive to all ages and communication abilities and is used by clinical practitioners, carers and support workers in a wide range of health, social work, residential and education settings. 

Zyteq is the Australian partner for Talking Mats and in this role we are offering training and sale of the resources.  Talking Mats Ltd is a Social Enterprise based in Stirling, United Kingdom.  The Talking Mats Intellectual Property is held in U.K. and Zyteq returns Royalties to Talking Mats Ltd as part of our contractual agreement.

Talking Mats can be used:

  • for getting to know someone
  • for developing relationships
  • to plan activities
  • for involvement in goal setting 
  • to determine outcomes
  • to plan communication passports
  • for involvement in person-centred planning
  • to express views at a meeting
  • to explore differences of opinion
  • to explore sensitive issues
  • to be involved in group discussion
  • for user consultation and involvement in service planning
  • to promote inclusion
  • in organisation and recruitment
  • to compare views between two people on the same topic
  • for work training and staff reviews 

How to start with Talking Mats

Talking Mats appear to be a simple tool, because the visual framework makes communication easier for the "thinker".  As with many apparently 'simple' strategies, the underlying skills are not immediately evident and cannot be gleaned by observation alone.  The Foundation Training provides the learning context, strategies and principles so you can become a Talking Mats "listener".  Training is highly recommended so that the integrity of the evidence-base is maintained with "best practise" implementation. 

Although Talking Mats requires no training on the part of the person or “thinker” expressing their views using the mat, the interviewer or “listener” needs to have an understanding of the principles involved in using Talking Mats.  For this reason we offer a range of training courses, to help you use Talking Mats effectively. Talking Mats training courses enable you to explore Talking Mats to its full potential and we offer different types of training to suit your needs.