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Communication Access UK

The Communication Access UK (CAUK) project aims to increase communication accessibility in businesses and organisations throughout the UK.


Update August 2018:

Since May 2018 the main focus has been on working towards the Communication Access symbol 'soft' launch at the Communication Matters 2018 Conference. We are nearly there! Also, we have been identifying 'early adopters' for the symbol. An early adopter is a business or organisation which will have training to enable them to display the symbol. They will then feedback information on the impact on their services.

Involvement of AAC users - Regional 'champions' continue to be identified and supported around the UK based within specialist colleges and adult support services. This work will be essential as CAUK is rolled out across the UK.
The 12 'mystery customers' continue to provide baseline information about their experiences out in the community in shops and leisure facilities. Some are more active than others and, understandably, there has been a noticeable lull over the summer period. At the present time this is a voluntary role but support workers in the colleges have expressed that it has given a new purpose to some of the activities which are undertaken within the access to the community programmes. The hope is to attract additional mystery customers from the stroke community as CAUK is rolled out across the UK.

Training workshops for early adopters – Potential early adopters already 'on board' include a north and south Health Trust, Bristol Centre for Enablement, 3 AAC Assessment Hubs, Stagecoach Trams Sheffield, and we have interest from a large corporate. The early adopters will need to reflect a wide demographic across the UK. We hope that Specialist FE Colleges will be keen to get involved. Training workshops are already booked to potentially achieve the first 'Communication Accessible High Street' in the UK!
The future plan is to have both a choice of face to face training workshop and an online e learning module. We are working with RCSLT education and training department to develop this framework. The plan is to engage with AAC users to produce video case studies for the CM website. The contributions from the AAC users who were involved have been repeatedly cited as being a valuable part of the training workshops. The AAC users share their story and talk about the good and bad communication experiences they have had, as well as answering questions in 'real time'. It has also been very encouraging to hear positive feedback from the AAC users themselves as to how being involved in the training workshops increases skills and confidence.

Resources and training materials - The work on the standards is progressing with a meeting planned with 'inclusion experts' in September. There is a recognition that the CAUK standards need to be in line with RCSLT and Scottish standards for consistency and a mapping paper has been produced. The latest version of the mystery customer questionnaire is available as a text only or symbol supported Easy Read English version and is now shorter and easier to complete. It is hoped an online version of this could be developed in the future to make capturing the data more stream lined and efficient. Following the launch of the symbol, CM will continue to promote CAUK via the CM website. This will include information about the process for registration with links to appropriate resources. In the future, and subject to funding, it is hoped there would be a dedicated website for Communication Access UK.

What next ... Following a very positive Roundtable event in April at RCSLT, we have been working hard to identify key contacts in the different organisations and support networks to continue to share the vision and stimulate interest and involvement. The aim now is to work with the (pro bono) designer to help with the finalising of the concept design and marketing strategy of the symbol with a soft launch planned for September 2018.
Parallel to this the work to encourage 'champions' and people with communication difficulties to become involved as mystery customers and workshop presenters continues.
Planning for the longer term is now high on the agenda for the Steering group to ensure sustainability with a recognition that sponsorship will be a key issue. This will hopefully be much easier to achieve because of the partnership working from the outset. A 5-year strategic and financial plan is being finalised.

Please make contact if you would like more information about any of the roles or resources. We need to continue to share this vision and get the message out there to as many people as possible.
It would be great to work with you to facilitate a workshop for your school, college, service or team during the autumn term. The pilot project funding finishes in December 2018 so time is of the essence!
Catherine Harris CM Project Coordinator accessproject@communicationmatters.org.uk


Update June 2018:

Involvement of AAC users - We continue to identify regional 'champions' around the UK based within specialist colleges and adult support services. It has been encouraging to continue to find that there are local projects which fit well under the CAUK umbrella.
The 12 'mystery customers' are continuing to provide baseline information about their experiences out in the community in shops and leisure facilities. Some are more active than others but this is a voluntary role and support workers in the colleges have expressed that it has given a new focus to some of the activities which are undertaken within the access to the community programmes.

Pilot training workshops at the University of Leeds – 2 workshops for staff at the University of Leeds were held in May. The training materials had been modified in the light of feedback from previous sessions. The contributions from the AAC users who were involved were sited again as being a valuable part of the sessions. The AAC users share their story and talk about the good and bad communication experiences they have had as well as answering questions in 'real time'. It has also been very encouraging to hear positive feedback from the AAC users themselves as to how being involved increases skills and confidence.

Resources and training materials - Training workshop materials and resources continue to be developed and revised light of feedback. The work on the standards is progressing with a recognition that these need to be mapped to existing RCSLT and Scottish standards for consistency. The latest version of the mystery customer questionnaire is available as a text only or symbol supported Easy Read English version and is now shorter and easier to complete. We are hoping to develop an online version of this in the future to make capturing the data more stream lined and efficient. There is also discussion about a dedicated website for Communication Access UK.

What next ... Following a very positive Roundtable event in April at RCSLT, we have been working hard to identify key contacts in the different organisations and support networks to continue to share the vision and stimulate interest and involvement. A representative from Parkinson's Disease UK has recently requested to join the Steering group. Now the symbol consultation stage is concluded, the symbol and standards need to be finalised. The aim is to engage with a (pro bono) marketing company to help with the finalising of the concept design and marketing strategy of the symbol with a soft launch planned for September 2018.

Parallel to this the work to engage 'champions' and people with communication difficulties as mystery customers and workshop presenters continues.

We are also engaging with potential 'early adopters' who will help to test out the process towards being awarded the symbol in the autumn. These need to represent a variety of organisations and businesses and we hope that AAC services will be keen to get involved. We are also working towards promoting the first 'Communication Accessible High Street' in the UK!

Planning for the longer term is now high on the agenda for the Steering group to ensure sustainability with a recognition that sponsorship will be a key issue. This will hopefully be much easier to achieve because of the partnership working from the outset.

Please make contact if you would like more information about any of the roles or resources. We need to continue to share this vision and get the message out there to as many people as possible.
It would be great to work with you to facilitate a workshop for your school, college, service or team.
Catherine Harris CM Project Coordinator accessproject@communicationmatters.org.uk


Update March 2018:

As usual the time between Christmas and Easter is flying by with the added excitement of the challenging weather!

Involvement of AAC users - Following successful interviews at Percy Hedley and Able 2 in Newcastle in January we have welcomed 4 new AAC users to the team of 'recognised' Mystery Customers. Working through the application and interview process has been an unexpected bonus of the CAUK pilot project with positive reports about how it is raising the confidence and the skills for those taking part. This is a voluntary role but support workers have also expressed that it has given a new focus to some of the activities which are undertaken within the access to the community programmes.
We continue to identify regional 'champions' around the UK based within specialist colleges and adult support services. It has been encouraging to continue to find that there are local projects which fit well under the CAUK umbrella.

Introductory Workshops - An introductory session was facilitated in January for the 'Communicating with Confidence' initiative based in Queensferry. This group of people with a range of communication difficulties have worked hard to establish a communication symbol which is used locally with resource materials available to raise awareness. It was encouraging to share experience and learning and to discuss how we can support each other. Sessions were also facilitated at Percy Hedley and Able2. Unfortunately, the planned February sessions for the Wales AAC SEN and at Speaking space in Southampton were postponed because of the weather but will be rebooked soon. An informal session with the SLT team at Victoria School Poole was fortunately scheduled in instead!
We were pleased that an abstract on CAUK was accepted for a presentation at the National Voices Conference in London on 14th March. I co-presented an interactive workshop session with Lidia Best from National Association for Deafened People. It has been great to establish new links as a result of the CAUK work.

Resources and training materials - Training workshop materials continue to be revised in the light of feedback. Additional workshops are being planned in May 2018 for staff at the University of Leeds. As we continue to recruit mystery customers, a flow chart to outline the process and an application form with interview opportunities is available for people who have attended an introductory session and wish to become recognised members of 'the team'. The mystery customer questionnaire is available as a text only or symbol supported Easy Read English version.

What next ... The final stage of the symbol consultation is now officially ended and the massive job of evaluating all the responses has already begun! The steering group wanted to ensure that people with all types of communication difficulties have been able to have the opportunity to respond as several 'gaps' were identified in the earlier consultation stages. We are pleased to report that this has been achieved with nearly 20% of responses from many different groups. We have been working hard to identify key contacts in the different organisations and support networks to continue to share the vision and stimulate interest and involvement. The aim is to engage with a (pro bono) marketing company to help with the finalising of the concept design and marketing strategy.

Another Stakeholders event is to be held on April 9th 2018 at RCSLT to give an update on progress and to plan the next steps in the launch of the symbol. This is by invitation to ensure a wide range of groups are represented.
Parallel to this the work to engage 'champions' and people with communication difficulties as mystery customers and workshop presenters continues.

Please make contact if you would like more information about any of the roles or resources. We need to continue to share this vision and get the message out there to as many people as possible. I am concerned that I am still meeting SLTs who do not know about CAUK!

It would be great to work with you to facilitate a workshop for your school, college, service or team.
Catherine Harris CM Project Coordinator accessproject@communicationmatters.org.uk


Update January 2018:

It was really exciting to hear before Christmas that CM had been awarded the second year of funding for the pilot stage of Communication Access UK. Even thought the symbol selection is still in the consultation phase all other objectives had been met in the first year. This funding will ensure that work can continue with the recruitment of more mystery customers across the UK and will support the training of people to become workshop presenters in preparation for when the symbol is launched later this year.

Involvement of AAC users – As previously reported there are 8 AAC users who have completed the application process and are involved as co-presenters of the workshops to businesses and or/mystery customers. Gill Pearl (SLT and CEO of Speakeasy Bury) has joined the team and has been working with the Project Coordinator on the final version of the Mystery Customer Questionnaire. Interviews are taking place in January of an additional 5 people with communication difficulties who would like to be involved. We are working towards having a mystery customer questionnaire which can be completed on an AAC device. Initial discussions have taken place with the potential of having an app version.

Introductory Workshops – It is planned to build on the previous sessions at Beaumont, Ingfield, National Star, Percy Hedley and Treloars specialist Further Education colleges in 2018 to inspire new students to become involved. New contacts with other specialist centres are also being developed. There has been the opportunity to make a closer link with the 'Include' choir in Redhill with a follow up session planned. An introductory session has been booked in January for the 'Communicating with Confidence' initiative based in Queensferry.

Resources and training materials - Training workshop materials continue to be revised in the light of feedback. There are sessions on Introduction to CAUK, Mystery Customer training, and Workshop presenter training as well as presentations and resources to use with businesses. The intention is to roll these out using a 'Train the Trainer' model. Alternative training frameworks are also being investigated. A flow chart to outline the process and an application form with interview opportunities is available for people who wish to become recognised members of 'the team'. The mystery customer questionnaire has been developed as a text only or symbol supported Easy Read English version. The consultation has free supporting materials supplied by Talking Mats through their website.

What next ... The final stage of the symbol consultation is now live to finalise the concept and confirm the standards. The steering group wants to ensure that people with all types of communication difficulties are able to have the opportunity to respond as several 'gaps' in responses were identified in the earlier consultation stages. We have been working hard to identify key contacts in the different organisations and support networks in preparation for the survey going live. It is available as an electronic version and as a download and we need your help to ensure that we have enough responses from people with communication difficulties. PLEASE DO TAKE PART!

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CM_communication_access
or download a hard copy.

Please respond by the 28th February 2018.

Please make contact if you would like more information about any of the roles or resources. We need to share this vision more widely. It would be great to work with you to facilitate a workshop for your school, college, service or team. Catherine Harris CM Project Coordinator accessproject@communicationmatters.org.uk



Update November 2017:

The 2nd stage of the Symbol Consultation is live!

In early 2017 we asked people, including those affected by communication difficulties for their opinions. We had over 3000 responses! We found out that:

  • people with communication difficulties don't always get the support they need in the community
  • people would like a Communication Access symbol in the UK

We asked people to choose an idea for a symbol to represent communication access. There were 2 ideas that were the most popular. Tell us what you like and what you don't like about these ideas in the online survey below:

https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/CM_communication_access

or download a hard copy.

Please respond by the 31st January 2018.

If you have any other ideas or comments please tell us!



Update October 2017:

CM Conference - It was good to have the opportunity to update members at the Annual Meeting and to present 2 sessions at the CM conference. Networking and recruiting 'champions' and potential mystery customers is a key part of this initiative.
There have continued to be positive feedback from staff at the University of Leeds who had attended previous workshops and the benefit of this training was evident during the conference. In advance of the symbol launch, an interim certificate was awarded to the appropriate teams to acknowledge the training which has been delivered at the University to date.

Involvement of AAC users - 
We now have 8 AAC users who have completed the application process and are involved as co-presenters of the workshops to businesses and or/mystery customers. In addition, Gill Pearl (SLT and CEO of Speakeasy Bury) has had a successful interview and has 'joined the team'. We have had expressions of interest from an additional 3 people with communication difficulties who would like to be involved. We are working towards having a mystery customer questionnaire which can be completed on an AAC device.

Introductory Workshops - Contact has been maintained with Beaumont, Ingfield, National Star and Percy Hedley specialist Further Education colleges, with repeat sessions arranged through the autumn term to include new student groups. There is the opportunity to make a closer link with the 'Include' choir and also with the 'Communicating with Confidence' initiative. Contacts in Scotland and Wales have also been identified.

Resources and training materials - Training workshop materials continue to be developed and tested with outlines for Introduction to CAUK, Mystery Customer training, and Workshop presenter training as well as presentations and resources to use with businesses. The intention is to roll these out using a 'Train the Trainer' model. The mystery customer questionnaire is available in an easy English and symbol supported version.

What next ... The final stage of the symbol consultation is due to be launched in late October/early November to finalise the concept and confirm the standards. The steering group wants to ensure that people with all types of communication difficulties are able to have the opportunity to respond as several 'gaps' in responses were identified in the earlier consultation stages. We have been working hard to identify key contacts in the different organisations and support networks in preparation for the survey going live. It will be available as an electronic version and as a download and we need your help to ensure that we have enough responses from people with communication difficulties. We are offering introductory CAUK workshops at the Cardiff and Ashford Roadshows. The next meetings of the Steering Group are on 26th October and 20th November.

Please make contact if you would like to work with us to facilitate a workshop for your school, college, service or team: accessproject@communicationmatters.org.uk


Update July 2017:

Symbol Consultation - The second stage of the symbol consultation has now closed. Thank you to all who have contributed their opinions and comments; we were delighted to receive over 3000 responses. The steering group are currently dealing with the wide range of views that have been received. Overall the majority decision is that '2 heads' represents total communication most clearly but, in the light of numerous comments received as to how this could look, it is felt that we still do not have a definitive symbol. There has also been considerable support for the 'message bubble' from the feedback from business. We are now taking further advice as to how we proceed as this is something which needs to have sustainability and maximum impact. Now that the minimum standards have been identified, we have been able to plan a final stage consultation for September with a launch planned in early 2018 so watch this space!

Introductory Workshops - Our work on pilot training continues to be exciting. Following our workshops at Star, Beaumont and Percy Hedley specialist Further Education colleges, mystery customer visits have been conducted by some students and we have now begun to receive completed mystery customer questionnaires which are being used to give baseline data and as marketing tools. The first introductory workshop specifically for stroke survivors was facilitated at the Bury Speakeasy Group in June. Workshops have also been facilitated at the Ipswich and Brighton CM Roadshows and at Ingfield Manor school. Experience of a local project was shared by the SLT team in Surbiton.

Growing the team! - A flow chart and application form have been developed to support the selection process for 'recognised trainers'. There are now 6 AAC users who are potential workshop presenters. We are very pleased to recently welcome Gill Pearl (based in Bury) to the team. The aim is to have trainers and mystery customers around the UK so that we can more efficiently provide training to businesses as appropriate. There will be opportunities to find out more in September at the CM Conference.

Please make contact if you would like more information or would like to work with us to facilitate a workshop for your school, college, service or team. Bookings are now being taken for the period September to December. accessproject@communicationmatters.org.uk



Update June 2017:

Communication Access UK symbol consultation: This stage of the survey has now closed. The steering group will be discussing all responses and comments with an aim of deciding on the next action. Thank you to those who have contributed. Watch this space for more information.



Update May 2017:

The focus over the last few months has been to research and collate information, develop materials and deliver information and training workshops as well as continuing to evaluate the responses to the symbol consultation.

The consultation on the symbol was extended due to requests from specific user groups and is due to close on June 9th 2017. We have over 2000 responses to date! 

Workshops in Leeds to train mystery customers

We now have 4 AAC users trained to be co-presenters of the workshops to businesses. They all have now completed mystery customer visits and have taken part in the pilot training workshops at the University of Leeds. We have had expressions of interest from an additional 3 people with communication difficulties who would like to be involved.

Pilot training at University of Leeds

We have delivered training to nearly 100 staff in 6 workshops of up to 20 each. We had representatives from the Catering Services, the Conference Office, Disability Services, Equal Opportunities department, and Residential teams. The feedback has been very positive with a high percentage reporting how valuable it was to meet and communicate with someone with a communication difficulty and who uses AAC. The university are now keen to organise further workshops to include other frontline staff.

Introductory Workshops

In addition to earlier workshops at Star, Treloars, Beaumont and Percy Hedley specialist Further Education colleges, sessions have been held at AT Therapy Oldham to introduce the project and to encourage participation in the symbol consultation. These have been well received with lots of comments and ideas from the students and the support teams.

Resources and training materials

Training workshop materials have been developed and tested. We now have outlines for Introduction to CAUK, Mystery Customer training, and Workshop presenter training as well as presentations and resources to use with businesses. The intention is to roll these out using a 'Train the Trainer' model.

What next in June...

The final stage of the symbol consultation will follow the evaluation. We are running introductory CAUK workshops at the Ipswich and Brighton Roadshows. A meeting is planned with the SLT team from Surbiton and with the Speakeasy group in Manchester. The progress to date will be discussed at the CM suppliers meeting in Sheffield. The next meeting of the Steering Group is on June 15th.

Please make contact
if you would like to work with us to facilitate a workshop for your school, college, service or team. accessproject@communicationmatters.org.uk


Update April 2017:

The consultation to select a UK symbol for Communication Access is still live. The deadline has been extended due to popular demand to Friday 9th June!

For more information - http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/news-item/2017-cauk-access-projec...

Do you have communication difficulties? Would you like to be involved with the project as a mystery customer? Download flyer


Update March 2017:

March was a busy month of training and delivering information workshops as well as beginning to evaluate the first responses to the symbol consultation.

The survey is still live so please do take part if you have not done so already! 

8th - Workshop in Leeds to train mystery customers
We now have 3 AAC users trained (and one pending) to be co-presenters of the workshops to businesses. They all have now completed mystery customer visits and have taken part in the pilot training workshops at Leeds University.

CAUK Training in Leeds9th & 21st - Pilot training at University of Leeds
We trained 80 staff in 4 workshops of 20 each. We had representatives from the hospitality, administration and security teams and the feedback has been very positive with a high percentage reporting how valuable it was to meet and communicate with someone who uses AAC. The university are now keen to organise further workshops to include other frontline staff.

22nd - Beaumont College, Lancaster
Cathy Harris facilitated a workshop for 6 representatives from the student union to introduce the project and to encourage participation in the symbol consultation. This was well received with lots of comments and ideas from the students and the support team.

23rd - Percy Hedley College, Newcastle
A meeting with 15+ staff from Percy Hedley and others from employment services was encouraging as we seek to link this project to existing structures. This was followed by a training workshop about CAUK and to introduce the mystery customer role to 8 AAC users with their support staff. It was good to be able to trial the revised mystery customer questionnaire.

During April the focus will be on the evaluation of the survey results. The next meeting of the steering group is on April 18th at RCSLT.
Please contact us if you would like to work with us to facilitate a workshop for your school, college, service or team by emailing accessproject@communicationmatters.org.uk.


Update February 2017:

Access Project Survey Released!

Consultation to select a UK symbol for Communication Access

For more information - http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/news-item/2017-cauk-access-projec...

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Visits to date to explain about the project, encourage participation in consultation and begin to identify mystery customers to be involved:

31st January - Star College, Cheltenham
1st February - Gloucester Royal Hospital SLT Dept
6th February - Treloar College, Alton Hampshire

Planned for March:
8th - Workshop in Leeds to train mystery customers
9th & 21st - Pilot training at University of Leeds
22nd - Beaumont College, Lancaster
23rd - Percy Hedley College, Newcastle


Update January 2017:

We are pleased to confirm that we have appointed Catherine Harris who was successful in her application for the Project Co-ordinator role for the Communication Access UK project and she has now started work as of January 2017. 

The business training pilot will move forward and a more accessible version of the symbol survey that went out at the CM2016 Conference, will be circulated online soon. The possible symbol could be something like:

CAUK Potential Symbols

There was a meeting with the University of Leeds team on 16th January and they are excited to be the first business involved and eager to begin staff training.


Update December 2016:

Communication Matters is working on the Communication Access project in partnership with the RCSLT and the Stroke Association.

Following the Stakeholders day on 10th June there have now been several meetings of the Steering group at which Toby Hewson and Cathy Harris have represented CM. The aim of this group is to move the project forward with involvement from the widest possible range of stakeholders to ensure that the project has maximum impact and sustainability.

The consultation phase has proved to be an interesting and useful exercise in terms of getting other organisations on board. The consultation was initially based on the Adelphi model where a 70% consensus is reached. The consultation included information on the choice of symbol, and statements on vision, minimum standards and training.

The pilot of the consultation was presented at the CM conference. Hard copies were given to all delegates. Based on feedback from this, the consultation has been revised and the aim is to launch it as widely as possible as a survey monkey in the New Year with the option of a hard copy download.

The Scope Aus symbol has been included in the consultation with the permission of Scope who are still very keen to work closely with us.

Interviews for the project worker took place in November. The project worker is due to start in post from January 2017. The project worker will have a key role within the steering group.

Leeds University are very positive about being the pilot site for training which will involve people with communication difficulties who may use AAC taking part. A mystery customer role is also key to the project.

This continues to be a very exciting opportunity for CM. In meeting all our aims, it gives a clear focus for bid writing and is an initiative which enables us to engage with other stakeholders who share our passion for communication and AAC. It enables us to engage with and involve young adults in transition from education to adult services. It has the potential of reaching those outside these areas and having a positive impact on businesses and organisations.

We are keen to involve those who have been involved with similar local projects to share knowledge and expertise as we move forward.

Please do contact us if you would like to be involved by emailing accessproject@communicationmatters.org.uk