Category Archives: Environmental Control

Specialised Services for AAC and Environmental Control: An Update

There have been big changes within the Barnsley Assistive Technology Team over the past three years, we have been steadily recruiting more team members as we expand our services across the Yorkshire and Humber region as part of the staged roll-out of Specialised Services for AAC and Environmental Controls. You can read more about the history of this process on our website.

We are now almost at the end of this process. We currently cover most areas within Yorkshire and Humberside and will be accepting referrals from all CCG’s by the end of the year. Information regarding our care pathway and how we work with local services can be found on our website:

Supporting Local Services

We are keen to work with local services to support them through this transition period and beyond. We have already visited lots of teams to talk about our service and how we can work with each other to support people using AAC and Environmental controls.

We also offer a wide range of free training courses which can be delivered in your local area. Details of our curriculum are also on our website: www.barnsleyhospital.nhs.uk/assistive-technology/services/training-courses/

We are also trying to bring together local services to share and learn from each other. This includes setting up and arranging the Yorkshire and Humber AAC Clinical Excellence Network meeting which has been running for almost a year now. The group meets every four months to discuss a range of Assistive Technology issues and serves as a useful forum for networking and CPD.

Also on our website is a range of resources, including our popular ‘local services resource pack’ which details products and resources which local professionals will find useful: www.barnsleyhospital.nhs.uk/assistive-technology/services/resources-and-information/

NHS England have also recently published guidance about AAC provision from local and specialised services. This is a useful reference for local commissioners and managers when considering AAC provision: www.england.nhs.uk/commissioning/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2016/03/guid-comms-aac.pdf


We have received lots of positive feedback so far and are enjoying getting to know the professionals across the region supporting AAC and Environmental Controls. If you have any questions about our service or would like to arrange for us to visit your team, please email barnsley.at@nhs.net

To receive further updates and news from the Barnsley Assistive Technology Team, please sign up to our mailing list (we send a message or two per month).

Local Service Resource Pack – update

Following the well received publication of our Local Service Resource Pack last year, an updated version has now been produced, including even more information about Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Environmental Control and Computer Access devices, software, hardware and other resources.

The pack is designed as an easy to use resource and is hoped to be particularly useful for supporting those working in local services within the Yorkshire and Humber Region, who may be expected to provide and support clients with using assistive technology that does not come under the remit of the Barnsley Assistive Technology Team. This may include local Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Teachers and Teaching assistants.

The guide includes ideas including communication aids and apps, computer access equipment, simple devices for environmental controls as well as details of assessments, software and other resources that may prove useful.

Local Sercvice Resource Pack

Local Service Resource Pack

The pack is available from our website at  http://www.barnsleyhospital.nhs.uk/assistive-technology/services/resources-and-information/

We hope that the resource will be useful and welcome any feedback, including any other products that you feel it would be useful to include. We hope to continue to update the resource on an ongoing basis.

NEW Local Services Resource pack

Two of our newer team members, Helen Robinson (Speech and Language Therapist) and Jenny Scott (Occupational Therapist) have been busy developing a brand new resource pack for local services. The pack is available from our website here: www.barnsleyhospital.nhs.uk/assistive-technology/files/2015/10/LocalServiceResourcePackv1-300915.pdf

Local Service Resource Guide

Local Service Resource Guide

The pack is a handy go to guide for professionals working within the field of Assistive Technology, containing one page profiles for AAC and Environmental Control products and resources. This includes; communications aids, switches, computer access peripherals, remote controls, mounting solutions, assessments, toolkits and software.

The products and resources within the pack are those which would usually fall within the remit of local services to provide under the new NHS England Specialised Services commissioning guidelines. We plan to update the pack on a regular basis and adding more products over thee coming months. We hope you find it useful!

Accessible app developers of the future?

Yesterday I gave a presentation at Sheffield Hallam University following an invitation from Dr Peter O’Neill, Senior Lecturer and leader on modules including mobile applications and programming for computing. The students were from the BSc Mobile Application Development course and an MSc Group Project.

Considering that the audience could be web and app developers of the future, this was an opportunity to remind of the need to design for accessibility. To set the context I explained the role of our service in assessing for and providing electronic assistive technology such as AAC, EC and computer access and described how some of our clients access this technology. An illustration was given of well established methods such as switch access, alternative keyboards, mice, eye gaze, voice recognition, screen reading software and use of inbuilt accessibility features in Windows, iOS and Android.

This lead to highlighting more recent technology developments which have the potential to be used as Assistive Technology  – if developed in the right way:

Leap Motion –  non contact gesture input from hand and finger movement.

Google Glass – wearable computer and optical head mounted display.

Google 3D Sensors – Project Tango – phone with motion tracking and depth sensing.

Hopefully we enthused the students with the potential of using these novel technologies for Assistive Technology and in thinking accessibility in everything they did.

There are lots of exciting potential student projects in the area of Assistive Technology and Accessibility. We will continue to develop collaborations between the Barnsley AT Team and University groups such as Sheffield Hallam – hopefully, at some point, building on the Project Possibility model in the UK.

New training date added!

There was a lot of interest in our ‘Introduction to Electronic Assistive Technologies’ course that we ran last week, so we have decided to run the course again on Thursday 12th September 2013.

For more information about what is covered in this course and the other courses in the series, please see our website or download the flyer from our website.  Courses are avaliable to professionals working in our service delivery areas (Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster). We may accept requests from other parts of Yorkshire and Humber subject to availability and a nominal charge.

If you would like to book a place, either phone our department or email us at: barnsley.at@nhs.net

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Keeping track of services

We often get queries from people in areas that we do not cover asking who provides a service in their area. What services are provided where seems like fairly key information to be in the public domain to help people access what they need and to plan how services are delivered. However, since about 2000, this information has not been maintained by a public body…. as a result I’ve (Simon) been keeping a map of Environmental Control services going and in the public domain.

This is very rough, and some areas are missing but it is, unfortunately, the best we have.

As part of a couple of projects to do with service development – related to the massive NHS commissioning changes about to happen (another post!) – we are doing a lot more of this and hopefully i’ll be able to publish some better maps soon.

Note: CM host a map and directory of AAC assessment services.

Integrating computer access and environmental control

The Assistive Technology Team have worked with Susan since 2006. When we first met Susan she was finding computer use with a standard mouse and keyboard very difficult and eventually this became impossible. She was also struggling to control other equipment around her house.

As this video shows, Susan is now able to control her computer, her door, phone, TV and other equipment, all using her head!  As with most people, this set up evolved over a period of time, as she tried different options and also as Susan’s condition (Multiple Sclerosis) changed.  The rest of this post describes her journey and how the equipment was set up for Susan.