The Communication Trust (a coalition of nearly 50 leading voluntary organisations and an advisory group, which includes the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, Association of Educational Psychologists and the General Teaching Council) has expressed concern in a press release over the closure of The ACE Centre in Oxford (scheduled for the end of June). The Trust has urged the Government to consider and implement the recommendations that Jean Gross (former Communication Champion), outlined in last year’s reports on Specialised AAC Provision.
The Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) reviews conducted by the Communication Champion (Jean Gross) in September 2010 and November 2011 can be viewed here. The reports served to assess the effectiveness of AAC provision across the country, with the aim of identifying good practice and development of future improvements to services.
The ACE Centre in Oxford has led the way in providing crucial support for children and young people with augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) needs for almost 30 years. Their specialist knowledge and tailored assessments have given thousands of children voices via pioneering communication aids and resources.
Anita Kerwin-Nye, Director of The Communication Trust said:
“It is very sad and deeply concerning to be losing such an expert skill-set on delivering specialist AACservices. The vital work of The ACE Centre in Oxford picked up the needs of what is typically a ‘low incidence’but ‘high need’ group of children and young people. There are therefore very limited pockets of this expertiseacross the country. The real risk is that unless the Government adopts quickly the model put forwards by Jean Gross, other expert provision will be lost. The Communication Trust and other experts in the field back this model and are calling for support to be made available to develop the provider market further. A number of children rely on AAC to communicate with their family, learn at school and to make friends. It is wrong that families are being told there is no provision available or that they will have to pay for this fundamental service. Tribute must be paid to the staff team at The ACE Centre in Oxford and we hope their expertise and skills can be utilised by others. We are pleased that great efforts are being made to sustain the legacy of their achievements such as the Speech Bubble website and Look2Talk resources.”