The History of Communication Matters

Communication Matters is a Chapter member of ISAAC (the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication), a society which exists to enable people from around the globe to support each other, collaborate, inform, lobby and give AAC a louder voice.

Both ISAAC and CM continue to develop and evolve to this day, working hard to achieve these aims.

Anyone can Download the History of Communication Matters book (pdf) for free, but you can also order a hard-copy of the book from our office by emailing (the book is free but a donation towards P&P is much appreciated!).

View our slideshow below to learn a little bit more about our rich history!

Key Dates in the History of CM

Picture depicts a Partner Scanning tool for AAC

In 1978 the International Project on Communication Aids for the Speech Impaired (IPCAS) was formed, to provide support for those interested in AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). This was the first international organisation of its kind and was comprised of specialists, engineers and agencies like RADAR (the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation).


1985 saw the International Society for Augmentation and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) be granted status as a private limited company in the Cardiff Registration Office.

Clive Thursfield - the first Chair of Communication Matters

1988: ISAAC was officially launched at the House of Commons by Ray Michie MP, meaning that Clive Thursfield could go on to outline the six major roles of ISAAC (UK), which included the promotion and awareness of communication difficulties and their aids.

The Communication Matters Journal

In the spring of 1993 the government Initiative on Communication Aids for Children (ICAC) was launched. The Initiative aimed to integrate training programmes, produce working guidelines, and facilitate more organised and coordinated access to communication services for children. This year also saw the official mouthpiece of CM become a journal rather than a newsletter.

The new Set of Leaflets

1997: A full set of leaflets about CM and AAC were funded by the Viscount Nuffield Auxiliary Fund, and the jigsaw piece logo was created. Judy Robertson successfully achieved validation for the AAC curriculum from the Open College of the North West, and it was piloted in 3 FE colleges.

1Voice Organisation

In 2000, CM members Katie Clarke and Tamsin Crothers, founders of the new 1Voice organisation, annouced a weekend event suitable for the whole family. Meanwhile, Scope launched a new campaign to ensure all communication aid users received the appropriate equipment, training and support. Furthermore, CM were busy launching a new award for AAC systems users and revitalising their Small Grant service for the support and encouragement of projects and activities.

Janet Scott at CM’s 21st Birthday

In 2006 celebrations were held for the 21st birthday of Communication Matters, as celebrations for the 20th anniversary were held off the year before. Unfortunately this was a financially worrying time for CM and concerns were high because CAP in England was ending.

CM’s Research Project

2010: CM’s research project “Communication Matters – Research Matters: an AAC Evidence Base” began its first phase of research, which was to map the extent of the need for AAC. The first report for this project was later released in 2013. This year also saw another revamp of the website and CM joined the Twitter community.

"The Dreamcatcher of AAC Hopes"

The year of 2014 saw the signing off of £15 million for the Convergence Fund for England and the inclusion of AAC in the Special Services Commissioning. A restructuring took place at CM with the reigns being handed over to Hilary Gardner and Emily Campbell.

The 2015/16 Trustees and CM Staff

2016: The hard work continues today in working towards our aims. Our vision is a world where all individuals are able to communicate in all aspects of life. We continue to punch well above our weight in working to achieve our aims to promote the awareness, understanding and use of all forms of communication, so that individuals can express their thoughts, feelings, needs and desires, using their chosen means.

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