disability access symbol shop window

A new training and standards scheme with a distinctive symbol has launched to help businesses showcase their dedication to supporting consumers with communication difficulties.

The Communication Access UK programme is a new initiative developed by leading third sector organisations and spearheaded by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT).

According to the RCSLT, up to 14 million people in the UK (20 per cent of the population) will experience communication difficulty at some point in their lives, with more than 10 per cent of children having a long-term communication need.

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To help businesses better support people with communication difficulties, the new programme boasts a new disability access symbol underpinned by a free training package and standards.

Once an organisation commits to the free training and standards to become “Communication Accessible”, it is added to the Communication Access national directory, alongside receiving certification and an accreditation

Additionally, organisations will have the right to display the Communication Access Symbol on their showroom doors and windows, websites and other marketing literature.

The symbol will act as a beacon to people with communication difficulties, says the RCSLT, giving them greater confidence to interact with that business or organisation.

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.

“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.”

Other organisations supporting the initiative include 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.

Organisations can find out more and register here

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