Disability charity Scope is looking to communication aid specialists to help it establish a picture of current service levels amid evidence of a “crisis” in provision.
It has launched a survey on the issue, after research last year conducted by Scope and BT found many people with communication needs were being denied equipment due to “patchy, inadequately-funded service provision across the country”.
The charity is campaigning for the government to provide sustainable funding for lifelong communication services – encompassing equipment, training, advice and support – to all in need.
It points out that there has been no national programme for communication aids – known as alternative and augmentative communication services (AAC) – since the government’s £5m-a-year communication aid project (CAP) came to an end in 2006.
Communication aid crisis
Scope head of policy Ruth Scott said: “The UK is facing a real communication aid crisis – thousands of disabled people are being denied their right to communicate because they cannot get access to the equipment and support they need.”
She added: “It is essential that professionals and statutory agents are given the opportunity to discuss their experiences of providing AAC services and suggest ways of improving the current situation.”
In July, the government committed over £50m to improve communication services for children after accepting the main recommendations of a report for ministers by Conservative MP John Bercow.
However, Scope pointed out that this would do nothing to address the needs of adults.