The future of AAC services?

Our team has been heavily involved in a number of projects that have recently finished and produced reports. Both have been around the provision of AAC (and specifically powered communication aid) services.

'Shining a light on AAC' reportThe first report is from the Communication Matters Research Matters project. This project looked at the provision of AAC services throughout the country, with some focus on services providing powered communication aids.  Hopefully the data gathered in this project provides a strong picture as to the need for AAC (in numbers and words); what is required to deliver AAC and specialised AAC services; and the state of service provision in 2012 in the UK.


'The Future of AAC Services' reportThe second report was on a project, funded by the department for education over 2012. This project aimed to pave the way for commissioning changes planned in 2013 that it was hoped would change and improve the delivery of AAC services across England.  The Barnsley team lead on ‘Objective 2‘ of this project which was to carry out what was the largest ever survey of local AAC service provision in the UK. Data were collected from over 200 services and this data has been analysed and the annonymised processed data set has been made available on the Communication Matters website.


Example visualisations of the DfE DataThe data visualisations include interactive mapping of the service coverage for various factors and also interactive visualisations of the data which can be filtered by region and other factors.

Example of mapping data from DfE projexct




It is interesting to note that the data from both projects was gathered before the new NHS structure that was brought in on 1st April 2013.  The data from the projects can be seen as a ‘snapshot’ or ‘baseline’ of AAC provision. If we repeat the exercise in 10 years and nothing has changed, we have failed!

Both projects tie in with the ongoing NHS commissioning changes around AAC services.  The new commissioning framework has the potential to radically alter the provision of specialised AAC services and communication aids – for the better.  Watch this space to see how these developments effect the team and the people we provide a service to.