In Scotland, there is no distinction between “specialised” and “local” services as elsewhere in the UK. Instead, AAC services are provided by local teams and supported by the national AAC services and, in some areas, by the regional services.

Local teams (within each Health Board area) and regional services are funded by the NHS, local Authorities and, in some cases, third sector organisations.

There is a designated AAC Lead at each Health Board who is responsible for overseeing clinical services. Independent services are run privately – you may have to pay for them.


The National Centre for Electronic Assistive Technology (NCEAT) Wales is commissioned and funded directly by NHS Wales.

The NCEAT Service undertakes assessment and ongoing review of a persons’ needs. It provides and equipment and training for people with the most complex communication and environmental needs.

Local AAC services, funded by local NHS Health Boards, provide low-tech AAC provision and support. Registered health care professionals can refer you to NCEAT for a hi-tech assessment.

Registered Health Care Professionals can refer into NCEAT for a high-tech assessment.


The NHS funds Northern Ireland’s specialised service, which is delivered by the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (BHSCT). Speech and Language Therapists at local NHS-funded Health and Social Care Trusts (HSCT) work with the specialised service to determine who can be referred.

Generally, you will need to pay for assessment yourself if you choose to go private at an independent service.

How Assessment Services are Organised in the UK

Services, support and funding arrangements vary across the UK


Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are responsible for providing most local health services. A few specialised services, including “specialist AAC” services, are commissioned directly by NHS England – the new organisation appointed by the Government to oversee the commissioning of all health services.



In 2012, the ‘A Right to Speak’ report was commissioned by the Scottish Government. It contained a number of recommendations which aimed to improve provision and care for individuals who use AAC in Scotland. In 2016, legislation was passed by the Scottish Government which entitled people with communication difficulties to be provided with communication equipment and support. NHS Boards and Integration Joint Boards in Scotland are obligated to fulfil this legislation.