In April 2016 the Scottish Government legislated to make sure that communication aids, known as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), are provided free-of-charge to people who can’t talk or who have lost the ability to speak.
The AAC Collaborative, set up by the Scottish Government, is made-up from a number of organisations including MND Scotland. The group was set up to offer guidance to the Scottish Government to ensure that the new legislation works as seamlessly as possible for AAC users when it is enacted.
The group will also work with the government to make certain that there are proper provisions in place to ensure the law works practically.
These include making sure that there are sufficient funds to procure the necessary equipment, that people receive the equipment that is best suited to them, that they receive the equipment in a matter of days, not months, and ensuring that users have access to training and technical support after they have received new AAC equipment.
In anticipation of the new law, the AAC Collaborative is now looking to hear your experiences with the current AAC system in order to provide this as feedback to the Scottish Government before new processes are decided. Other groups involved in shaping how the law works could also hear your views.
If you are interested in sharing your experiences to help improve the AAC system, please do so by answering the questions below;
1) Who uses AAC to communicate? Is this yourself or a relative, friend, teacher, support worker or someone else?
2) What do you think of things like;
- The assessment process?
- How long things took?
- Funding for your AAC?
- Support you get in learning to use your device?
- Training people you communicate with get so they know how to help you communicate?
- Support you get from your SLT and others?
- Support you get when your equipment breaks down?
- What happens when you need a replacement machine?
- Did you have to buy your own equipment?
- Did you get speech and language therapy support to use your equipment?
Please send your responses to Anne.Braekkan@capability-scotland.org.uk by Tuesday 11th November.
How we got here:
In 2012 the Scottish Government published report on AAC called A Right to Speak, which was released to make sure that people understood AAC and to make sure that there was enough funding in Scotland for people who use AAC.
From 2012 to 2015 there was a campaign and then a report called Now Hear Me. During this campaign there were a lot of events and steering groups set up to make sure that what the Scottish Government said in the report actually happened, improving the quality of life for AAC users in Scotland.
In 2015 MND Scotland launched the Let Me Speak campaign which called on the Scottish Government to introduce a legal duty for the NHS to provide communications equipment for those who need it, highlighting that people with MND should be treated as a priority.
In April 2016 the provision of AAC was passed into law and a number of steering groups, including the AAC Collaborative, were set up to make sure that Scotland is ready for the new law coming into effect.
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