The ability to communicate empowers individuals, enabling them to share information, needs, experiences, thoughts and feelings with others (Cockerill, 2002). For the majority of us, society’s general reliance upon verbal and written communication goes unnoticed and unconsidered. For the more vulnerable minority (including people with learning disabilities) physiological, psychological and social barriers make traditional means of communication extremely frustrating, limited or impossible, thus excluding them from participation in decision-making society. Nevertheless, communication as a means to an emancipatory end has come under recent scrutiny, particularly regarding the debate surrounding communicative rationality. Although not yet developed across the academic arenas of architecture and landscape architecture, theorists in the field of planning practice have for over a decade been involved in the rise and critique of the role of communication, through the advance of communicative and collaborative planning (Healey, 1999). Critics of this approach have voiced concerns that communicative rationality continues to ignore the more underrepresented sections of the community and provides no guidance on how their involvement might be achieved (Tewdwr-Jones and Allmendinger, 1998). In response, supporters have replied that through collaborative approaches we can envisage that ‘individuals might learn new identities and construct their interests differently through social learning encounters’ (Healey, 1999). For the learning disability community this is a key issue. Currently some of the most vulnerable members of society as a result of communicative isolation, often accompanied by financial and social deprivation, it might be seen that people with learning disabilities would be at an extreme disadvantage when trying to enter into the arena of public debate. In order for the participation of vulnerable people to occur in matters of environmental decision-making, we suggest that as professionals we must turn our attention to the hierarchical system that has constrained such an approach. Due consideration must be given to the communication barriers that separate and divide our professions, communities and those in policy. We need the means by which we can generate ‘a common professional language to research and report on environment…[which] need not eliminate poetic expression in favor of technical jargon, but it would establish separate more general terms of reference with which to build knowledge’ (Habraken, 2005). In this paper we do not seek to replace the role of the professional. Instead we argue that by employing a process that values difference, with the capability to augment and challenge current consultation techniques, we now have the means by which underrepresented communities can be understood, empowered and involved as key players in environmental decision-making. Through the empirical example of a qualitative fieldwork study into a UK city’s local public transport system, we show how this process facilitates partnerships across academia, vulnerable communities, practice and policy to result in positive environment and social change.