Monday 22 April saw The future of AAC services in England – a framework for equitable and effective commissioning launched in partnership with the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability (RHN). The framework seeks to significantly facilitate the commissioning of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and move towards a more equitable provision of these services across the UK. The RHN, as a voluntary sector provider of AAC and lead organisation for the London region, was instrumental in the delivery of the framework for this nationally coordinated project.
The first of four national events was held in central London on Monday 22 April to mark the publication of the AAC commissioning framework and raise awareness about the vital importance of AAC. Speakers at the event included House of Commons Speaker John Bercow, RHN resident and user of AAC Paul Carroll and Gary Derwent, Joint Head of Electronic Assistive Technology at the RHN.
Speaking at the event, Paul Carroll emphasised the importance of AAC: “I’m told it is called Augmentative and Alternative Communication or AAC. To me it is my voice. The technology may have changed and improved but the importance remains the same.”
Gary Derwent, Joint Head of Electronic and Assistive Technology at the RHN, said, “As a leading provider of AAC services the RHN was ideally placed to contribute towards this important work. I am really optimistic that the Framework will improve the delivery of AAC through promoting the effective co-working of AAC providers.”
The Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability is a national medical charity which was founded nearly 160 years ago. It is dedicated to the rehabilitation and long term care of people with complex disability due to acquired brain injury or neuro-degenerative disease.
Respected as an authority on neuro-disability care and influencing policy makers, medical professionals and commissioners, our aim is to rebuild the lives of people with severe neurological impairment; to help them to achieve their full potential and enjoy the optimum possible quality of life, whatever their level of ability. www.rhn.org.uk
‘The future of AAC services in England – a framework for equitable and effective commissioning’ is the result of findings from Department for Education-funded AAC grants between 2012 and 2013. Four regions – North, London, Midlands and East, and South – collaborated on eight key objectives, to enable commissioners to effectively reduce inequity and improve service delivery across the country from April 2013. Each region included contributing members from health, education and voluntary sector providers of AAC services, with the RHN being the lead organisation for London.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) refers to a range of techniques which support or replace spoken communication. These can include gestures, signing, symbols, word boards, communication boards and books as well as assistive communication technology or Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCAs).