A Right to Speak Supporting Individuals who use Alternative and Augmentative Communication

Guidance to be used by people who use Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC), their familes, strategic and operational heads within health boards, local authority social work and education departments and the voluntary sector


Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is 'any method of communicating that supplements the ordinary methods of speech and handwriting, where these are impaired1 (for a detailed definition of AAC refer to Appendix 1). This document sets out our vision for a Scotland where people who use AAC are fully included in our society. It describes what needs to be achieved through the delivery of four strategic aims. Eight recommendations with specific action points describe what we have to do to meet those aims. Finally, it also contains a set of principles, outlining the shared values that underpin this policy and support our actions.

In 2007, a campaign led by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), with support from Capability Scotland and Augmentative Communication in Practice: Scotland, highlighted a range of difficulties encountered by individuals with communication needs who require to use AAC. The RCSLT also surveyed AAC provision and demonstrated that this was limited in many Scottish regions. In response, the then Minister for Public Health and Sport set up a Short Life Working Group, an outcome of which was a recommendation to produce national multi-agency guidance.

This is issued under the Equality Act 2010 and incorporates the work of the Short Life Working Group which comprised:

  • production of quality indicators for AAC;
  • consideration of the outcomes of a national AAC provider survey; and
  • evidence gathered from focus groups and questionnaires for people who use AAC.

Additional stakeholder engagement with individuals and groups of people who use AAC as well as representatives from statutory and non- statutory agencies also contributed to the production of this report.


Email: Peter Kelly

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