Information for the Public

What is AAC?

Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) is a term used to describe systems and strategies designed to help people communicate, who have difficulty with speaking, or no speech at all.

AAC takes various forms; high-tech solutions involve using an electronic device to assist speech, while low-tech solutions often involve paper-based tools, such as an alphabet-chart.

You may want to watch "How to speak when you don't have a voice", a video made by Jemima Hughes, a film-making AAC user, to raise awareness of AAC.

What support is available for me or someone I know?

AAC services in England are run using a hub-and-spoke model. KM CAT (the hub service for Kent and Medway) conducts assessments for those with complex needs, and supports local therapists (i.e. the spoke services) in helping everyone else.

If you think you may benefit from AAC, then discuss this with your local therapist, e.g. speech and language therapist. If you are not already known to a local therapist, your GP can refer you to one.

Your therapist may then refer you to KM CAT, if they believe that your needs meet our criteria.

Please contact us if you need further information.

What does a referral to KM CAT involve?

Once your referral has been accepted, we will contact you and your referrer/local therapist to arrange an appointment. The assessment is a process that may take more than one session.

We will give you the opportunity to try using a communication aid.

You will be involved in any decision making around what communication aid best meets your needs. Please note that this may not always be a high-tech solution, as some clients find a paper-based communication aid more effective.

Once a suitable communication aid has been identified, this will be provided to you on a long-term loan basis.

Training will be provided to you and those supporting you - this will involve you learning new skills.

Voice Banking and Message Banking

Voice and Message Banking is the process of recording and storing an individual's voice, so that it can then be used on a communication aid to help personalise communication.

We are not involved in this process, but we may be able to use your banked voice or messages on a communication aid.

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has published an information sheet on the subject of voice / message banking.

Speak to your local therapist for more information.