Board of Trustees (2018-2019)
The following were elected by the members of Communication Matters to serve as Trustees from September 2018:
I am a Clinical Scientist working with the Assistive Technology Team based in Barnsley. We are a Specialised Service and assess adults and children with a range of disabilities for Electronic Assistive Technology, including Communication Aids and Environmental Control Systems. I am extremely passionate about Electronic Assistive Technology but also the importance of it being appropriately developed and provided, as technology, in order to work, needs to fit the needs of the person. Outside of work, I am a busy mum of twins who enjoys baking and teaching aerobics. In addition I have a sibling with significant physical and learning disabilities which I feel has provided me with insight into the challenges that families face.
Following a career as a chartered surveyor, I retrained as a teacher and worked with children with a wide range of special educational needs in mainstream schools for 11 years. Looking for new challenges, I worked for both Mayer Johnson and Widgit where I trained education and health professionals across the UK and Ireland in the use of symbols to support communication and learning. Further experience working with AAC/AT companies developed my knowledge of language and communication and the strategies available both paper based and hi-tech to support people who could not speak.
I joined Ace Centre at the beginning of 2015 at what was a watershed for the provision of AAC for people with complex communication needs in England and a very exciting time to be involved in the AAC/AT sector. My management role at Ace Centre in our South office is very much one of team leader. It's a challenging, diverse and busy role but one I enjoy immensely. I have attended many CM events over the years including Conference and Roadshows from the perspective of both supplier and service provider.
Downtime for me invariably involves sailing yachts or running around the countryside endeavouring to keep fit.
I am a speech and language therapist and for the past 6 years I have worked in the adult acquired service in NHS Tayside. For most of that time I have been based at the Centre for Brain Injury Rehabilitation and Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. I work on a daily basis with people whose lives are enhanced through AAC and I have a special interest in working in this area. Outside work I enjoy spending time with family and friends and I am also attempting to train for the Edinburgh marathon. As a new co-opted trustee, I'm really looking forward to working with the team and getting involved with Communication Matters.
Nicola Hayton (Treasurer)
I am a speech and language therapist with 20 years experience. I work with adult with acquired neurological conditions in Sheffield. I also have a background in working with young adults with learning disabilities in specialist colleges. I have support people in the use of AAC since I qualified. I have been a Trustee for the last 2 years and recently became the treasurer for the charity. Away from work I enjoy live music, watching football and walking.
Victoria Healy (Deputy Chair)
I am a Speech and Language Therapist who has worked with AAC users for over fifteen years. I am currently the AAC Specialist SLT for the Physical and Sensory Support Service which provides assessment and support for children and young people and their families across Surrey. I also work at The Ridgeway Community School in Farnham and I relish the challenges that each day brings. In my past life I worked at the Assistive Communication Service in London and had a brief stint on the 'other side' as a product advisor for Logan Technologies. I live in Hampshire and spend any spare time I have juggling three energetic children. I have been attending Communication Matters events for many years and am loving my time so far as a trustee.
Having been involved in AAC issues for almost 16 years I am really pleased to be able to use some of my skills and experience (from both my personal and working/voluntary life) to support CM at an important time when it is growing and increasing its wider influence.
I am the parent of an 18 year old AAC user, but also have a background in linguistics & phonetics (and philosophy, just in case), and am a qualified teacher. I have worked as a charity advisor (governance and fundraising) as well as for CAB, and have been a trustee of 1 Voice, chair of a local cerebral palsy society branch and a non-executive director of Friends of the Earth. I currently represent 1 Voice on the Communication Consortium and was on the board of The Communication Trust for 3 years.
I believe passionately in the right of all people without speech to have access not just to AAC, but also to education, work and opportunities others take for granted. CM has an important role to play in raising other people's expectations of AAC users across a range of settings and as a trustee I hope I will be able to help CM work towards this, and other goals which will benefit those who use or need to use AAC.
Toby Hewson (Co-Chair)
As well as being a trustee for Communication Matters, which by the way I love, I run my own charity called Just Different - we visit schools to talk to the children about disability and difference. When I'm not working I love playing wheelchair football or going skiing.
Ruth McMorran (Co-Chair)
I have worked in the field of special education for over thirty years. My background is in teaching and I have additional postgraduate qualifications in special education, vision impairment and assistive technology. Currently I work with children and young people, their families/carers, and other professionals delivering training and implementation support both at home and at school. I also carry out assessments and write assistive technology reports for litigation. I have recently moved to live in the lovely town of Kirkcudbright in South West Scotland.
Having lived and worked in London as a teacher, teaching music and steel pans, I moved to Lincolnshire 14 years ago for a quieter life!
I have been involved in AAC for 10 years, working as the Senior Teacher for CandLE for the past 7 years. This year marks a milestone as the first of my pupils achieved GCSE success. I am involved in the Exams Access Group working towards access for more AAC users to appropriate qualifications.
I still play steel pans, with a band in London and with my own band which I formed in Lincolnshire in 2016.
Helen Whittle (Co-Opted)
I am a speech and language therapist and have worked in the field of AAC since 1991 when I joined the team in an assessment centre.
After 9 years there I moved with my husband to the Midlands and worked as a local AAC therapist in an Adult speech therapy team. This enabled me to work with young Adults with head injuries and also those with progressive disorders and those who had had a Stroke. I also worked in a number of Special Schools. I was also lucky enough to work with one of the manufacturers and co-ordinated a project working on enhancing the look and vocabulary range of a specific symbol set. I have operated as a tutor for on-line learning in Special Schools and through collaborative work with a specialised AAC service in England developed AAC training courses to support an AAC Care pathway.
My most recent role was as a lecturer in the Speech Pathology Department at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). This involved me in being a Tutor to a group of students and being able to lecture about my experience– all the time trying to get in as much information about AAC!
Working at MMU also allowed me to be involved in projects, for example, developing online training materials for the NHS Education Scotland in the field of AAC for support workers. For the last 2 years I have been very involved in the I-ASC Project.
When I am not working I can be found cooking enormous meals for 2 teenage sons, walking our dog or trying to improve my yoga skills.