10 November 2020 News

Communication access logo

As face coverings become the norm in the current COVID-19 climate, communication between people is becoming increasingly challenging – and – for approximately 14 million people, who have additional communication needs, it is even tougher. Today (12 November 2020), a new disability symbol, designed to make life easier for millions of people in the UK, will be launched.

The Communication Access Symbol, with underpinning training and standards, has been created for businesses, organisations and consumers by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) in partnership with the MND Association, Stroke Association, Headway, Disability Rights UK, Business Disability Forum, Communication Matters, The Makaton Charity, and the National Network of Parent Carer Forums. The partnership is known as Communication Access UK.

In the UK, Scotland currently leads the race in becoming an accessible communication nation, having already introduced inclusive communication legislation to its new social security agency and consumer rights body. Now, with the arrival of the Communication Access Symbol, businesses and organisations across the entire UK will have the opportunity to embrace the cause of accessible communication. Those that take up free online training on accessible face-to-face, telephone and online customer service will earn the right to display the Communication Access Symbol – demonstrating they have all their customers’ needs close at heart.

Several UK businesses and organisations have already taken the Communication Access training including Skipton Building Society, University of Leeds, Health Education and Improvement Wales, and ISP Fostering.

Thank you to Jan Adams and Barry Wilson, who are both living with MND, for their help promoting the symbol. Learn why they think the Communication Access Symbol is important either by watching their videos below, or scroll down to read the transcripts.

Jan Adams:

"Hi my name is Jan. I have motor neurone disease and I can hear and understand but not speak. It would be so helpful and make me feel more confident and independent if I could talk to someone who has had training to help me and understand that I might take a long time to communicate using text to speak. But how wonderful it will be that people can help – thank you".

Barry Wilson:

"My name is Barry Wilson and I am living with motor neurone disease. Advice from the Motor Neurone Disease Association suggested voice banking which I did before my voice started failing. I now use a speech app called SpeakUnique which you are listening to.

I have used the speech app to make presentations to health professionals attending seminars as well as to my friends at MND branch meetings. Whilst the speech app is great for pre prepared phrases it lacks spontaneity as the audience waits while the user types.

Business transactions are difficult for people with communication problems and I have been frustrated on many occasions where companies I deal with don’t understand or have the patience to listen. I am therefore delighted about the new communication access symbol soon to be launched. I hope that many businesses will adopt the system and give confidence to people like me with communication issues".

Visit the Communication Access Symbol website for more information