Funding for Communication Aids

Children

Some Health Authorities fund equipment for children, but funding is more likely to be provided by the Educational Authority. Some Educational Authorities have their own assessment services; some use regional assessment services (e.g. NHS AAC assessment services; the ACE centres in Oldham and Oxford; CALL Scotland in Edinburgh). All these services are knowledgeable about sources of funding. However, it can take a long time for money to be agreed and budgets are limited. Some families resort to buying equipment themselves, fundraising or appealing to charities.

Adults

For adults, the situation varies from area to area. Some Health Authorities, PCTs and social service departments have a budget but many adults have to buy equipment themselves, fundraise or borrow equipment from charity.

Trial and Assessment

Whatever the source of funding, it is important that the person who is going to use the equipment has the opportunity to try it before purchase. An assessment is essential to ensure that the system meets the AAC speaker’s strengths, skills and needs and that they have the opportunity to consider all the options available.

Funding and Assessment Services

Funding and assessment services are organised differently in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Find out more >

Hospices

Lifelites are a charity who provide IT and sensory equipment to children’s hospices throughout the UK. Lifelites vision is to give
children and young people with life-limiting, life-threatening and disabling conditions the opportunity to benefit from the power of assistive and inclusive technologies to learn, to be creative, to communicate and to take control.

Other Funding Sources for Communication Aids

You can make an application to the Individual Funding Request (IFR) Panel within your own Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). There is no national site to link to for this – you would have to search IFR (sometimes referred to as Effective use of resources) + XXXX (your location) CCG.

A number of the Specialised AAC Assessment Services have established relationships with IFR panels and CCGs / Commissioning Support Units (CSUs) in their region and are a point of reference for IFR Panels to consult with, so it may be worth pursuing this route and contacting your regional Specialised AAC Service for advice / support with an application.

Some alternative routes are:

Funding for Projects for Individuals

Communication Matters is aware that it can be very difficult for a person to apply for financial assistance.

All too often, individuals are barred from applying and applications can only be made through charitable or community-based organisations. However, the organisations listed below do offer funding to individuals.

The Prince’s Trust

This organisation focuses on supporting people aged between 14 and 30 to access education, training and employment.

Barchester Healthcare Foundation

The mission of the BHC Foundation is to make a difference to the lives of older people and adults with a disability, supporting practical solutions that lead to increased personal independence, self-sufficiency and dignity.

The Big Boost

The charity UnLtd manages this Big Lottery fund which gives financial awards to young social entrepeneurs aged between 11 and 25 to help them get their ideas off the ground.

Benevolent Charities

Within the UK there are a number of ‘benevolent charities’ who give grants and sponsorship to a wide range of individuals for all sorts of projects including the purchase of equipment. The Association of Charity Officers is the umbrella body for benevolent charities. Each charity publishes a set of criteria relating to the types of projects they will consider and the individuals who qualify for support under their awards criteria. In many cases these relate to a specific field of work and would include not just someone working in this trade or field but also their families.

Insurance for Communication Aids

Regardless of where your communication aid came from, you may need to insure it against loss, theft or accidental damage. Check with the provider of your equipment before taking out any insurance.

Suppliers and manufacturers do not provide insurance, only extended warranties. These warranties cover repair, labour and return shipping. Some suppliers include accidental damage, but not all, so check with your provider at the time of purchase. The warranties do not cover fire, theft or loss – these can only be covered by an insurance policy, which suppliers or manufacturers cannot provide under the Financial Services Act.

What to do:

  • Check if your provider covers fire, theft or loss and accidental damage.

  • Check with your household insurance

    You should be able to include the communication aid in such a policy if below the maximum single item amount in your policy (e.g. £1,500). If the communication aid exceeds that amount, then there should be an option to add the communication aid to the policy as an All Risks Single Item, which will raise the cost of your premium.

  • If you do not have home insurance, there are companies who provide a policy for personal belongings.

    The amount covered and the cost will vary from year to year. Two company’s who provide this type of cover for communication aids is Towergate (previously known as Ellis Bates) speak to the Manchester office (Website: www.towergate.com) or Fish Insurance as part of household insurance (www.fishinsurance.co.uk) but please read the following paragraph first. Burnetts have informed us they no longer do insurance.

Important

Insurances are regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA). Because Communication Matters is not registered under the FSA we cannot give advice, guidance or recommend products. Should you choose to consider these companies, you must contact them yourself. You should also seek professional advice if you are not sure of what is being offered. Finally, the responsibility for making any decision regarding insurance must be made by you.

Extra Information

This message was posted to our AAC Forum in regards to using communication aids in vehicles:

When a device is mounted onto a wheelchair, the wheelchair is tilt tested (tipped up at an angle of 12 degrees or more) in a forward, backward and sideway position. This is carried out because the addition of extra equipment to the chair could change the stability of it from its original setup.

Users are informed that this equipment must be removed from the wheelchair when travelling in vehicles. The wheelchair will possibly have been crash tested and its ‘pass’ certficate will be as a standard setup (or as listed in the manufactures documentation). As soon as anyone adds extra bits to this wheelchair then this would void that, or the person adding the extra bits now takes on the risk, hence tilt testing and the removal of the equipment when travelling in vehicles.

You might need to do an individual risk assessment as it might be more important that a user can communicate while in a vehicle. This would be an individual risk assessment, where the risk of not being able to communicate / call for attention is greater than the possibility of a crash. (This is another discussion itself).

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