Accessing AAC equipment
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is an important clinical intervention for many people with motor neurone disease (MND).
This information is for health and social care professionals working with people with MND. It provides suggestions for best practice in AAC provision, and where to find more information.
There is a wide variety of AAC devices and software available, with new products and applications being developed all the time. Because people with MND are unique, it is important to start with their communication needs and wishes first, before considering which AAC system will be most helpful.
A trial of a device before purchase is highly recommended. This can help to establish how effective it is for a person, and can provide evidence for funding. Many suppliers will offer trials of equipment, sometimes for a small fee.
It is important to work closely with a specialist AAC service. Across England, there are regional centres that provide specialist AAC assessment and provision for individuals with complex needs. Where a person does not meet the referral criteria, provision should be provided by the local clinical commissioning group, but the specialist AAC service may still be able to advise on the best route to take.
As MND progresses, a person may need to access a specialist AAC service.
More information about the AAC pathway in England
Wales is working towards a similar model to England, with the specialist AAC service in Cardiff. Regional ‘spoke’ services are to be set up in each of the seven local health boards.
Many AAC suppliers will visit a person with MND to demonstrate a new piece of equipment, but the speech and language therapist or another professional should be present to provide an unbiased opinion on the equipment’s appropriateness.
AAC suppliers are experts in the use of the products they supply, but speech and language therapists are experts in communication and have a duty of care to carry out a comprehensive assessment of a person’s ability and need. They should therefore be involved in any product recommendation.
The following sites provide up-to-date information on AAC equipment suppliers and specialist AAC services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland: