Project to improve support for people with communication needs

The Isle of Wight has been chosen to run a pilot project to improve support for residents with communication needs and who use alternative communication methods.

The scheme – due to launch later this month – will feature a multi-agency service supported by specialist national charity, the ACE Centre.

The ACE Centre specialises in communication and assistive technology for those with difficulties due to physical impairment, language disorder or learning disability.

It is estimated that hundreds of Island residents could benefit.

The three-year pilot, funded by NHS England, will help develop, support and provide training for local augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) services.

AAC involves providing communication aids to support or replace someone’s speech.

This can include alphabet charts, symbol based charts and books, simple and complex voice output communication aids, and assistive technology to help people live more independently.

The project will involve the Isle of Wight Council, NHS Speech and Language Therapy Services for adults and children, the Isle of Wight College, St George’s School, Medina House School and St Catherine’s School.

The ACE Centre will provide tailored support in areas including training, awareness-raising materials and access to assessment equipment.

Leah Frisby, team lead for the Island’s Schools Speech and Language Support Team, said: “This project is a great opportunity for our Island services to work together and share our resources, develop our expertise and really change and improve access to the community for a wide range of people.”

Isle of Wight Council Cabinet member for Children’s Services, Councillor Paul Brading, said: “This is a real boost for the Island to be involved in such an important pilot project, and I’d like to thank all those who have made it happen and partner organisations for giving their time and expertise.”

The Island was selected for the pilot by the ACE Centre for its strong work already in this area.

Martin Fisher, regional manager for the south for the ACE Centre, said the various stakeholders on the Island demonstrated “a great will and enthusiasm” to create and develop a joint support project.