As face coverings become the norm in the current COVID-19 climate, communication between people is becoming increasingly challenging – and – for approximately 14 million people, who have additional communication needs, it is even tougher.
In light of this, a new disability symbol, designed to make life easier for millions of people in the UK, will be launched.
The Communication Access Symbol, with underpinning training and standards, has been created for businesses, organisations and consumers by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) in partnership with the Stroke Association, Headway, MND Association, Disability Rights UK, Business Disability Forum, Communication Matters, The Makaton Charity, and the National Network of Parent Carer Forums. The partnership is known as Communication Access UK.
In the UK, Scotland currently leads the race in becoming an accessible communication nation, having already introduced inclusive communication legislation to its new social security agency and consumer rights body.
Now, with the arrival of the Communication Access Symbol, businesses and organisations across the entire UK will have the opportunity to embrace the cause of accessible communication. Those that take up free online training on accessible face-to-face, telephone and online customer service will earn the right to display the Communication Access Symbol – demonstrating they have all their customers’ needs close at heart.
Nick Hewer, RCSLT President, said: “People who have communication difficulties often feel marginalised by society because their needs can be hidden in a way that other disabilities are not. If they receive poor customer service as a result of businesses not understanding how to support their needs – whether it’s a bank, building society, gym, hotel, pub, restaurant, or shop, they are likely to feel twice as frustrated as the average person and with good reason.
Adding: “Achieving the Communication Access UK standards and displaying the symbol will be a great way for organisations to show they value all their customers by being keen and able to communicate inclusively with people who currently have difficulties accessing their services. It’s a lifeline for millions of people.”
Several UK businesses and organisations have already taken the Communication Access training including Skipton Building Society, University of Leeds, Health Education and Improvement Wales, and ISP Fostering.