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Due to launch at the end of March 2019, the Isle of Wight has been selected to run a pilot project to improve support for residents with communication needs and who use alternative communication methods.

The scheme will feature a multi-agency service supported by specialist national charity the ACE Centre. The Centre specialises in communication and assistive devices for people with mental and physical disabilities.

It is estimated that hundreds of the island’s residents could benefit.

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The three-year pilot, funded by NHS England, will help develop, support and provide training for local augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) services. The scheme will be based at several community, health, education and social care sites, including schools, hospital and supported living facilities.

AAC involves providing communication aids to support or replace someone’s speech. This can include alphabet charts, symbol-based charts and books, simple and complex voice output communication aids, and assistive technology to help people live more independently.

The project will involve the Isle of Wight Council, NHS Speech and Language Therapy Services for adults and children, the Isle of Wight College, St George’s School, Medina House School and St Catherine’s School.

The ACE Centre will provide tailored support in areas including training, awareness-raising materials and access to assessment equipment.

Leah Frisby, team lead for the Island’s Schools Speech and Language Support Team, said: “This project is a great opportunity for our Island services to work together and share our resources, develop our expertise and really change and improve access to the community for a wide range of people.”

The project also aims to provide a more skilled workforce to deliver greater support for people with communication needs on the Isle of Wight.

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