LawWorks InfoExchange on supporting people with communication difficulties

In this session we looked at the ways in which a wide range of people with communication difficulties could be supported to access clinics.

The September InfoExchange raised awareness of the needs of clients who have communication difficulties, and looked at the role that assistive technology can play in clinics to support these clients. Contributing to this session were: 

  • Alex Barker, Advice and Information Officer, Ability Net 
  • Helen Whittle, Chair, Communication Matters

First, we heard from Alex Barker of Ability Net. Ability Net is a charity that supports anyone living with any disability or impairment to use technology to achieve their goals at home, at work or in education. Alex gave us an overview of the types of communication difficulties we might encounter – someone with Parkinsons, a stroke, a hearing impairment or someone with Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome, and ways in which we could support them to communicate effectively. This could be by giving them enough time to respond to questions, understanding that we may need to rephrase questions or that we might look to use closed captioning.   

We then heard from Helen Whittle, Chair of Communication Matters. Communication Matters is a UK wide charity that supports people of all ages who find it hard to communicate because they have little or no speech. Helen introduced us to Communication Access and the free online training package and standards that underpin it. This is a new disability access initiative developed by a range of charities and led by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists. Four online learning modules were launched in November 2020. These are: 

  • Introduction to Communication Access
  • Phone Communication 
  • Focus on face-to-face Communication
  • Written Communication.   

By June 2021, 2500 individuals had completed the online training along with 891 organisations, representing over 14,000 staff. We would encourage clinics to consider sharing this training with their volunteers.




Date of publication

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Date last reviewed

Wednesday, September 8, 2021