CALL FOR ACTION! Children and Families Bill – AAC Meeting

Future Commissioning Arrangements of Augmentative and Alternative Communication Services and Communication Aid Equipment


Message from Catherine Harris, Chair of Communication Matters:

As you will be aware, Communication Matters is currently engaging with MPs and other government stakeholders to try and support the future commissioning arrangements for AAC services and communication aid equipment. It has been decided that the next Children and Families Bill SLCN Working Group meeting will be focused on AAC in the Houses of Parliament on 22nd October 2013.

The SLCN Working Group, coordinated by the Communication Trust with the support of Communication Matters, was established to raise issues around speech, language and communication needs (SLCN) during the passage of the Children and Families Bill (which will reform SEN provision in England) through Parliament. The group is chaired by Communication Matters supporter Paul Maynard MP and has been very successful at raising the profile of SLCN in Parliament and also with the Government.

In order to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity we need your help to get as many MPs as possible to attend the meeting and be briefed on AAC at this crucial time! Ahead of the meeting we would be grateful if you would be willing to email your local MP and ask them to attend the meeting. You can find out who your local MP is by going to the ‘Write to Them’ website at findyourmp.parliament.uk and entering your postcode. We have also drafted the template email below which you might find helpful.

If you have any queries please feel free to contact Oliver Cardinali on 020 7463 0688 or oliver.cardinali@whitehouseconsulting.co.uk

REMEMBER the more MPs who turn up for the meeting the more pressure we can put on the Government to support the AAC sector at this crucial time of reform!

Dear (Insert MP’s Name)

Children and Families Bill SLCN Working Group, Chaired by Paul Maynard MP
Tuesday 22nd October, 1pm in House of Commons Committee Room 13
RSVP to Oliver Cardinali on 020 7463 0688 or oliver.cardinali@whitehouseconsulting.co.uk 

I am writing to you as my local MP to alert you to the next meeting of the Children and Families Bill SLCN Working Group, Chaired by Paul Maynard MP, which is taking place on Tuesday 22nd October, 1pm in House of Commons Committee Room 13 (the room may be subject to change) on the topic of future commissioning arrangements for AAC services and communication aid equipment.

As you may be aware, some disabled people can only ‘speak’ to other people if they are provided with electronic communication aids referred to as AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). These aids make use of whatever movements the person can control, to make choices between pictures, symbols, words or letters that are in turn linked to a digitised or synthesised electronic voice. It is estimated that 0.5% of the population may need AAC at some point in their lives (approx. 260,000 children and adults). In addition it is estimated that 0.05% of the population need access to regional specialised AAC services and/or communication aids, (approx 26,000 children and adults) – this technology lasts for an average of four to five years.

As my local MP, I would be really grateful if you were able to attend the meeting on the day so that you can be briefed on the latest situation from Communication Matters, a UK wide organisation committed to supporting people of all ages who find communication difficult because they have little or no intelligible speech. Communication Matters is working to reform how communication aid equipment is provided to AAC users because, despite the Government’s commitments to change services for the better, too little is happening in practice. There are fears that, despite new Government funding, not enough is being done to support children and adults who require AAC. At the meeting there will be further discussions on the current situation and how MPs can help support their local AAC services on the ground.

I look forward to hearing from you and can provide further information if required.

(Insert Your Name)