We must talk (about AAC)

AAC is short for Alternative and Augmentative Communication which is basically the technology people with speech impairments or no speech use to communicate. While there is much focus on the high tech solutions like iPads and my lightwriter, AAC also relates to low tech devices and can be as simple as a piece of paper with Yes/No written on it.

It is very important to understand that in the UK people without speech or significant speech difficulties do not have the right to have appropriate AAC in the same way people with  mobility difficulties have the right to a wheelchair or other mobility aids. Then NHS provision of AAC to children is very patchy and for adults, it is far worse.

While I am wary of the general demand for ‘rights’, I feel the right to speak is so fundamental to what any person needs to participant in their families, communities and society. We are not talking about social constructed benefits like a free bus pass or cold hard cash not to work, but access to equipment which can really make the difference between having a life and just having an existence.

This is why I believed the right to AAC must be talked about more and pushed up the agenda to the top where so called user led organisation should do much more to give a voice to people without speech if they really care about all disabled people.

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