The History of Communication Matters

Communication Matters is a chapter member of ISAAC (the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication). ISAAC exists to enable people from around the globe to support each other, collaborate, inform, lobby and give AAC a louder voice.

Both ISAAC and CM continue to develop and evolve working hard to achieve these aims.

Find out more about our achievements over the years.

You can download a free PDF of the History of Communication Matters book, or order a hard copy from us by emailing [email protected]. The print edition is free, but we appreciate a donation towards the cost of P&P.

Watch our slideshow to discover more about our rich history!

Key Dates in the History of CM

Picture depicts a partner scanning tool for AAC

In 1978 the International Project on Communication Aids for the Speech Impaired (IPCAS) was formed, to provide support for those interested in AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication). IPCAS was the first international organisation of its kind and comprised specialists, engineers and agencies such as RADAR (the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation).


In 1985, the International Society for Augmentation and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) was granted status as a private limited company in the Cardiff Registration Office. ISAAC UK (CM) was registered as a charitable company in 1985 and is governed by a Board of Trustees/Directors who are all volunteers with a wide background of AAC.

Clive Thursfield - the first Chair of Communication Matters

1988: ISAAC (UK) was officially launched at the House of Commons by Ray Michie MP. This enabled Clive to outline ISAAC (UK)’s six major roles, including the promotion and awareness of communication difficulties and their aids.

The Communication Matters Journal

In spring 1993, the government launched the Initiative on Communication Aids for Children (ICAC). The Initiative aimed to integrate training programmes, produce working guidelines and facilitate more organised and coordinated access to communication services for children. This year Communication Matters’ official mouthpiece was transformed from a newsletter into a journal.

The new set of leaflets

1997: We were able to produce a full set of leaflets about CM and AAC, and create our jigsaw piece logo, thanks to a grant from the Viscount Nuffield Auxiliary Fund. Judy Robertson successfully achieved validation for the AAC curriculum from the Open College of the North West, and it was piloted in three FE colleges.

1Voice Organisation

In 2000, CM members Katie Clarke and Tamsin Crothers, founders of the new 1Voice organisation, organised a family-friendly weekend event. We launched a new award for AAC systems users and revitalising our Small Grant service, which supports and encourages projects and activities. Meanwhile, Scope launched a new campaign to ensure all communication aid users received the appropriate equipment, training and support.

Our 21st birthday

In 2006 we held celebrations for our 21st birthday of Communication Matters. We had to hold off celebrating our 20th anniversary the year before, as CM was experiencing a financially worrying time. We were very concerned too about the ending of CAP (Communication Aid Project) in England. This government initiative ran from 2002 to 2006 and initially provided £10 million for equipment, assessments and training in the field of assistive technology. A further £10 million pounds was later announced, and the project was extended from two years in length to four years. (Picture shows Janet Scott at our party.)

Our research project

2010: We began the first phase of our research project, Communication Matters – Research Matters: an AAC Evidence Base. The aim was to map the extent of the need for AAC. We published our first report on the research in 2013. We also revamped our website in 2001 and joined the Twitter community.

"The Dreamcatcher of AAC Hopes"

2014 was an exciting time as AAC was included in the Special Services Commissioning, and there was the signing off of £15 million for the Convergence Fund for England. In 2015 the office moved from Edinburgh to Leeds and the staff changed.

The 2015/16 Trustees and CM Staff

2016: We continue to work hard to achieve our aims. Our vision is a world where all individuals are able to communicate in all aspects of life. For a small organisation, we punch well above our weight in working to promote the awareness, understanding and use of all forms of communication, so that individuals can express their thoughts, feelings, needs and desires, using their chosen means.

For an Easy Read text only version of this page: