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Legal right for communications aid

It is now a legal obligation for health boards across Scotland to provide people with a communications device.

Legal right for communications aid

Posted : 19/03/2018

Today, it is now a legal obligation for health boards across Scotland to provide people who need it, with a communications device.

A communication aid is something that will assist a person to communicate if they have problems speaking, writing or typing. Another term you may hear is AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). AAC covers a huge range of aided techniques which support or replace spoken communication, from signing to eye-gaze technology.

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. Thanks to our campaigning the provision of AAC was passed into law in April 2016. 

Today, 19th March 2018, this law has come into effect and now health boards across Scotland have a legal obligation to provide people who need it, with a communications device. 

Lawrence Cowan, Chairman of MND Scotland said, “This is another huge step that will transform care for people with MND, and so many other conditions.

“Many people with MND find losing their voice one of the hardest symptoms of the illness to live with. This law unlocks so much more than a piece of equipment; it will support people’s independence and help them communicate with those they love.

“MND Scotland is proud to have campaigned for this law alongside so many people affected by the disease, including Gordon Aikman. The change that they have secured will be felt for generations to come.”

Health Secretary Shona Robison said:

“We’re committed to improving the lives of people who have lost their voice or have difficulty speaking.

“That’s why I’m delighted that from today (March 19), all NHS boards in Scotland now have a duty to provide communications equipment and the support to use it, frequently referred to as Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), to anyone who needs it.

“Across Scotland, specialist AAC services are already provided in response to local need. Today marks this provision becoming a legal duty.

“These forms of equipment can make a real difference in the lives of people facing profound challenges, making sure they have a voice to be heard.”

MND Scotland can still provide some equipment for people who have MND, while they are waiting for their device. Find out more about our service here.

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