£4 million to improve alternative communication
An extra £4 million pounds is to be given to health boards to improve services and provide new equipment for people who have alternative and augmentative communication needs.
Thousands of people across Scotland will now be able to benefit from the kinds of equipment which helps Professor Stephen Hawking communicate.
Public Health Minister Michael Matheson announced the funding to support the roll-out of new guidance to improve services for people who need augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). AAC equipment enables people with difficulty expressing themselves using speech to communicate. Equipment can range from high tech computer equipment with specialist software, to low tech picture communication books.
The "Right to SpeakĒ guidance is being launched jointly with the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
The guidance takes forward the recommendations of a Short Life Working Group set up in 2009 to agree short, medium and long term goals to deliver better outcomes for people who need these services.
The funding, which is being provided over the next three financial years, will be provided to health boards to buy equipment to meet current and future demand and to set up quality, sustainable AAC services in partnership with education and community care services.
Some of the funding will also be provided to NHS Education for Scotland to develop education and training for NHS staff.
Announcing the funding during a visit to Capability Scotlandís Corseford School in Renfrew, Mr Matheson said:
"I am delighted to be able to announce this £4 million funding, which I am sure will make a real difference to people who have difficulty expressing themselves using speech and their families. The kinds of equipment and speech and language therapy support services it will buy are vital for thousands of people in Scotland
"Iím also very pleased that we will be able to take forward the recommendations of the working group, which Iím confident will make a real difference to the lives of those people who need these services.Ē