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Brain injury survivors with communication needs thrown a lifeline in lockdown with launch of new symbol Main Image

Brain injury survivors with communication needs thrown a lifeline in lockdown with launch of new symbol

Thu 12 Nov 2020

As face coverings become the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic communication between people is becoming increasingly challenging, and for many people with brain injury, it is even tougher. Today (12 November 2020) a new disability symbol, designed to make life easier for millions of people in the UK, has been 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 Headway - the brain injury association, The Stroke Association, 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, says: “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.”

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.

Headway Deputy Chief Executive, Luke Griggs, said: "Communication difficulties are very common after brain injury, with many different parts of the brain involved in this complex skill. Headway understands the enormous difficulties that communication difficulties can cause for people with brain injury in everyday life, and are delighted to be involved with this project.

"The Communication Access Symbol and its associated standards will raise awareness of this important issue, while offering reassurance to help brain injury survivors increase their independence and play a more active role in society."

Find out more and sign up to Communication Access UK:


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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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