Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) is the first organisation in Wales committed to adopting the communication access symbol and standards to improve the lives of people living with communication disabilities.
While the wheelchair access symbol is universally recognised, as well as the symbols for hearing and vision impairment, until 2018 there was no symbol for communication access.
Communication Access UK, a partnership between national charities and organisations* working to give a voice to people living with communication disabilities, have developed a new symbol and accompanying set of standards to improve communication access.
Up to 20% of the UK population experience a communication difficulty at some point in their lives. These difficulties could include speech difficulties, finding it hard to ask a question or ask for help, or difficulties reading, writing and processing information.
As an early adopter of the communication access standards and symbol, HEIW is helping to shape the project as it is gradually rolled out across the UK by leading the way in Wales.
HEIW staff will be provided with face-to-face training designed to underpin the implementation of the standards.
To support those with communication needs, staff will learn how to; ensure physical environments are adapted, ensure verbal and written information is available in a number of accessible formats, consider communication access at the start of designing any initiatives or resources, and provide appropriate time for communicating and processing information.
Following this training, HEIW will display the symbol in its offices to illustrate that staff are equipped to support the needs of people with communication disabilities.
Alex Howells, Chief Executive of HEIW, said: “We are delighted to be the first organisation in Wales committed to adopting the symbol and standards to support those living with communication disabilities to gain equality of access and opportunity.
“By raising awareness, providing training for our staff, and through the introduction of the new communication access symbol, we hope to increase confidence and independence for those living with communication difficulties.”
*Communication Access UK is a partnership between the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, Headway, Communication Matters, Stroke Association, Disability Rights UK, Business Disability Forum, Motor Neurone Disease Association and the National Network of Parent Carer Forums.