Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Widening the support for AAC

I had a great time at the AAC SIG yesterday. Being the only OT there it was interesting to reflect on what OTs can bring to the AAC table, especially as I plan for the roundtable I am co-chairing at the BAOT conference.

Much of the discussion was about how difficult it is for people who use AAC when they transition from education and the disparity between support in education and "black hole" of services and funding when they leave.

We also talked about the use of the Internet for people who use AAC including the importance of social networking and web based video conferencing media such as Skype.

My recent background is in social care and this led me to think more about how AAC and social care could fit together. It seems to me that AAC has traditionally been though of as sitting in health and education but in actual fact communication is pretty fundamental to securing and maintaining a productive place in society. I know some other AAC services are part funded by local authorities but this isn't common practice. There are some parts of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (1970)

(b) the provision for that person of, or assistance to that person in obtaining, wireless, television, library or similar recreational facilities;

(c) the provision for that person of lectures, games, outings or other recreational facilities outside his home or assistance to that person in taking advantage of educational facilities available to him;

which might provide a good avenue to start discussions with local authorities. In the same way that health would provide a wheelchair and then social care would facilitate its use in the home and community so you could argue for support with communication?

Direct payments and individual budgets are aimed to empower people with disabilities to make their own choices about what and how to fund the things they need to support them. This could also open up interesting opportunities to source support for people who use AAC.

I might have good patient to see if we can develop a case for communication support through social care so I will keep you posted.

Taking AAC beyond words and phrases to truly functional communicative interaction is something that really fascinates me!

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