Purpose: To understand the experience of speech impairment (speech sound disorders) in everyday life as described by children with speech impairment and their communication partners. Method: Thirty four interviews were undertaken with thirteen preschool children with speech impairment (mild to severe) and twenty one significant others (family members and teachers). Results: A phenomenological analysis of the interview transcripts revealed two global themes regarding the experience of living with speech impairment for these children and their families. The first theme comprized the problems experienced by participants, namely: a) the child's inability to 'speak properly', b) the communication partner's failure to 'listen properly' and c) frustration caused by the speaking and listening problems. The second theme described the solutions participants used to overcome the problems. Solutions included: a) strategies to improve the child's speech accuracy (e.g., home practice, speech-language pathology), and b) strategies to improve the listener's understanding (e.g., using gestures, repetition). Both short term and long term solutions were identified.Conclusion: Successful communication is dependant on the skills of speakers and listeners. Intervention with children who experience speech impairment needs to reflect this reciprocity by supporting both the speaker and the listener, and by addressing the frustration they experience.