A person accessing voluntary assisted dying may have a communication barrier that affects their ability to be understood by others. For example, someone may have a communication disability, or would prefer or needs to communicate in a language other than English.

Having a communication barrier does not mean the person does not have decision making capacity.

Communicating your request

The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2021 (the Act) allows you to communicate your request to access voluntary assisted dying through speech, gestures or other practical and appropriate techniques including:

  • using information or formats tailored to your needs
  • health practitioners assisting you to communicate your decision
  • health practitioners giving you more time to discuss your request
  • using technology that alleviates the effects of disability you may experience.

You can also communicate your decision non-verbally, including by:

  • writing or drawing
  • pointing to a picture or items such as a body part
  • sounds with positive or negative intonation
  • head nodding for ‘Yes’
  • head shaking for ‘No’
  • blinking, such as once for ‘Yes’, twice for ‘No’
  • shrugging shoulders for ‘unsure’ or ‘don’t know’
  • gestures and facial expressions
  • purposeful eye gaze
  • other symbols of intent or acknowledgement.


If you prefer or need to communicate in a language other than English, you can use an accredited interpreter to help you communicate throughout the process.

Your health practitioner should engage a professional interpreter for you through their local procedures.

Interpreters can choose whether or not to assist you to request access to voluntary assisted dying. It is the responsibility of the health practitioner to ensure interpreters are briefed on the content matter prior to any appointments and given the opportunity to choose not to be involved.

Requirements for interpreters

The Act requires an interpreter who assists you throughout the Voluntary Assisted Dying Pathway to:

Interpreter services

The Interpreting and Translating Centre (ITC) is a South Australian Government agency employing qualified translators and interpreters experienced in most of the community and commercial languages of South Australia

They can provide on-site and telephone interpreting in over 100 languages and dialects, including some Aboriginal languages.

Contact ITC to discuss an interpreting booking or requirement.