What is Communication Access UK?

Communication Access UK is an initiative led by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists in partnership with several different charities. Communication Access means supporting people with communication difficulties more effectively, providing those who undergo the training with increased awareness of communication difficulties as well as practical skills to be able to support someone to express themselves and to understand.

Those organisations whose staff have undergone the training can display the Communication Access symbol which is a symbol for equality. The Communication Access Symbol and training supports inclusive communication for all.

Communication disability affects millions of people and up to 14 million people in the UK (1 in 5 people) will experience communication difficulty at some point in their lives (RCSLT 2022).

Communication entails speaking, writing, hearing and understanding what is said to us. The impact of a communication difficulty will differ from person to person with those difficulties potentially having a mild through to profound impact on engaging in day to day life, independence and relationships with others.

STEPS Rehabilitation provides therapy for clients who have new and often significant communication difficulties. Our in house speech and language therapy team work with the client, staff and their significant others to optimally support communication during their time with us.

What are the Communication Access standards?

  • Recognise every group includes people with communication support needs
  • Find out what support is required
  • Take action in all communications
  • Keep trying

Communication Access project at STEPS

In order to achieve accreditation a project group was set up to and led by Lead Speech and Language therapist Joanne Holder with support from Jessica Renyard (Speech and language therapy assistant), Henry Leahy (finance administrator) and Lauren Thompson (reception administrator). The project was initiated in January 2022.

Work we have done:

Prior to applying for accreditation STEPS rolled out the Communication Access e-Learning training and also designed bespoke face to face training which is delivered on a monthly basis within mandatory training. All new starters and existing staff are required to complete both elements of the training on an annual basis.

The bespoke training provides further education as to the communication impairments which clients at STEPS may present with as well as raising awareness of difficulties which may be experienced by our own staff and visitors to the service. The training is interactive with staff having the opportunity to practice skills in supporting others with communication needs.

The face to face training has been well received as the following feedback highlights:

“Enjoyed interactions- able to understand frustrations. Videos very helpful to understand different communication difficulties.” Rebecca A

“it was a very enlightening training and I am very confident that the skill acquired will be useful to communicate with STEPS clients.” Oluwatobi O

“Well pitched for both clinical and non-clinical job roles. Feel that it was very useful all round. Really enjoyed it. Thank you very much.” Chloe L

“Great session, enjoyed the interactive element. Found the statistics insightful to see how prominent communication difficulties are.” Jess R

Following training, suggestions as to how STEPS can become more accessible from a communication perspective have been made from a range of staff across the different departments at STEPS.

Accreditation was granted in August 2022 and STEPS have made a commitment to continue to develop the service to meet the needs of clients, staff and visitors who have communication needs over the next 12 months and beyond.

Future directions

The project has naturally evolved, and work is currently underway to improve the accessibility of client timetables and to improve signage around the building. Both aspects are being informed by feedback from staff, clients and visitors.

Communication Access UK is a free e-learning tool which individuals and organisations can sign up to hear: https://communication-access.co.uk/individual-register/


RCSLT (2022) Communication Access UK Available at https://www.rcslt.org/policy/communication-access-uk/ (Accessed 21/09/2022)