Talk for Scotland
Forth Valley Launch
Report of the 20th Nov 2008
Sensory Centre, Camelon
The people
• 60 people attended
• Some worked for
– NHS Forth Valley
– the Local Councils
– the Police
– Forth Valley College
– Voluntary Organisations
• Some had communication support needs
What happened
• 5 people with communication support needs
told their story
To quote them we heard directly from
the horse’s mouth !!
The stories
• were very powerful and moving
• told how communication
support needs affected people’s lives
– what they found helpful
– what they found frustrating
– what each one of us could do to help
• told us that the impact of having communication
support needs is very similar regardless of the
They talked about the Talk for Scotland
Toolkit, a new resource to support people
with communication support needs
Time to look at examples of local
There were examples from:
NHS Forth Valley, Stirling Council, Action for
Children, Quality Action, Stirling University
Looking at what we do now
The examples were designed to help people
communicate in different situations such as:
expressing an opinion or a view
planning for the future
making choices
in meetings
Everyone was asked to work
in small groups
• They thought about barriers and solutions for people
with communication support needs going to the new
• There was lots of cutting, sticking and chatting as
some groups made posters
Two groups used Talking Mats
Themes which emerged
1. Preparation
7. Staff
2. Letters
8 Environment
3. Signposting
4. Reception
5. Time
6. Information
Many of the barriers
and solutions will apply
to all sorts of situations
e.g coming to council
offices, attendance at
parents meetings etc.
1. Preparation
• Professionals need to prepare and have advance
knowledge of needs. The following would help
– A flag on a file that identifies a communication support
– GP letters should have a proforma to be filled in
routinely when referring someone to hospital which
would indicate the best support to use
• Patients with communication support needs should
prepare before appointments
• Know what you want to say
• Think about how you can say it
Fail to prepare is to prepare to fail
2. Appointment letters
• Use large font
• Clearly spaced and well laid out
• Focus on key information such as time,
department, date
• Use different formats to suit different needs
e.g. email, CD , texting, symbols, raised letters
• People should be able to request this is in a
similar fashion to requesting different
3. Sign posting
• Should start from your first appointment
• A map is better than no map but often you
– Where is the main entrance?
– Which entrance is best for you?
• Think about design. What about the London
underground system – lines and colour coding
More sign posting
it’s a BIG issue
• Why not use clear simple language like
– blood instead of haematology
– eyes instead of ophthalmology
• An order to the signs – alphabetical might help
• Symbols would be a big help – a universal system
• Employ ‘meeters and greeters’
• Make sure it is easy to find where the disabled
parking and public transport is and importantly how
to get back out !!
4. Reception
• It is really helpful if the receptionist gets to know you and
understands your needs
‘she phones for my transport because I can’t’
• The mechanics of calling out names could be both visual
and auditory. A ticketing system plus your name or
number might help
• Pleasant surroundings help stop fatigue and reduce
• The attitude of the receptionist is very important
‘I should not have to explain what's wrong with me
before I get to the appointment [ie to receptionist] She
should accept me as I am’
5. Time
• Communication takes longer so double
appointments help
• For some with additional care needs getting
out takes longer so 9 a.m. appointments are
very difficult
• Tiredness and fatigue makes communication
problems worse for some so being picked up
early and dropped of late is not helpful
6. Information
• Leaflets are not always the best way to give
information so think about other formats
– video, PowerPoint , podcasts
• People with communication needs should share
some responsibility for letting staff know what
they need - ‘I have aphasia’
‘If you get it right for people with communication
support needs you might make it better for
7. Staff
Staff need to know how their communication
can make things worse
• ‘The doctor covered his mouth even when I
asked him to uncover it – then he said he
thought I was being deliberately slow’
• ‘speak to me not my supporter’
• ‘Doctors would rather do it their way not the
way that is easier for the person’
Staff need to know more about
communication support needs
• There is a difference between hearing and
‘I hear everything but I don’t understand’
• How to use the supporting strategies
– key words
– symbols
– alternative and augmentative forms of
‘how do you use a communication book ?’
Staff are the biggest resource
• They can raise awareness. Use people’s stories and
develop role models of people with communication
support needs
• It works if staff
– value people
– respect them
– have and use the knowledge of supporting
communication needs and create the right
‘Go the extra mile’
8. The environment
• Background noise has a huge impact
‘even a little noise can put you off’
• Care with Colour – not distracting for lip
• Care with lighting to aid lip reading
• It is cheaper if you think about what you need
to ensure a good communication environment
from the beginning
Everyone was asked
‘What are you going to do?’
People said ‘I am going to .....
• find out more about accessible information
• look at our first appointment letter
• involve people with communication support needs in inclusive
communication training
• always ask about someone's communication support needs
• think about someone’s communication support needs when
• raise the profile of this work in the annual report
• give people more time and ask them what helps
• give people with communication disorders the same support
and emphasis as I would give those with disabilities, race etc,
And I am going to .....
• create a picture menu book for people young people using my
• think of using larger fonts in my letters
• raise more awareness of people with these needs
• arrange education on accessible information for admin
• arrange Talking Mats training
• ensure that our communication strategy is for everyone –
don’t treat accessibility issues as an add on
• make sure people know we can do a bit of sign language
• avoid using too many symbols cause that can be confusing
• Keep in touch with the people from Communication Forum
A big thanks to
Communication Forum Scotland
Robert Dalrymple
Connor Stewart
Bill Jones
Clifford Hughes
Lindsay Richardson
Amanda Bennett
Lynn Waddell
The Hard to Reach Communities Fund
More Information from
• Anne Marie Irving
• Lois Cameron
• Joyce Firth
• Amanda Bennett Communication forum

Talk for Scotland Forth Valley launch