Tag Archives: accessible information

Making Connections: Access Rating’s new App to promote Accessibility

Access Rating logo

Many thanks to Access Rating for this guest blog describing their services and free mobile app.

We were so pleased when Talking Mats invited us to write a post for them this week. There is such a great need for disability-related organisations to connect and share right now. COVID 19 has had a devastating effect on us all, but particularly on disabled people, who are facing even greater barriers across health, employment and access every day. A joined-up approach to delivering our services has never been so important.

About Access Rating

Access Rating Blog Photo

We are Access Rating; a social enterprise which seeks to create opportunities for disabled people to work, live and socialise with the same freedoms as non-disabled people. We provide a range of services, from employability support for disabled people, to access audits for businesses, to help them create more accessible venues and services.

Always striving to find innovative ways to promote access for disabled people, we have recently launched our Access Rating mobile app.  This simple online tool allows disabled people to rate their access experiences of any venue they visit in the UK. In turn, accessible venues can attract more disabled customers from their positive recommendations …whilst encouraging those a little behind, to follow suit.

That’s a lot of work, but we’re not alone; Access Rating is just one cog in a wider society of individuals, communities and organisations which support disabled people throughout their life journey. Each of us plays our part in empowering disabled people to reach their potential and exercise their rights as they choose. And the impact of what we achieve depends very much on those who support us in our efforts.

The ‘Purple Poundas an Incentive for better Access

The Access Rating app has the potential to be a game-changer within the quiet world of retail and hospitality accessibility. We say ‘quiet’, because it is. Despite current legislation and the tireless work of countless organisations, too many businesses still don’t understand what it means to be fully accessible.  And without an access-specific platform for disabled people to voice their opinions on these venues, there has been little incentive for businesses to get on board. The app hopes to change this by increasing visibility of good – and not so good – practice.

However, there is another factor which may be influencing accessibility in the right direction.

With the crushing impact of COVID19 restrictions, more struggling businesses are turning their focus to the value of the ‘Purple Pound’ – that’s the spending power of disabled people, their families and friends. And at £274 billion in the UK each year, and rising, businesses have a lot to gain; with so few accessible venues around, disabled people are likely to become loyal customers to those who actively seek to cater for their needs.

It is timely then, that our Access Rating app serves as an incentive for businesses to ‘up their game’. And the more venues that are rated, the greater the motivation for them to maintain their good name – or begin building it.

Connection is the key word here. Everything works better when we work together. And that’s why we’re asking you to help us spread the word, by rating the venues you visit.

Download the Access Rating App: Your Opinion really counts!

The Access Rating mobile app is free, easy-to-use and nation-wide in its reach. So whether you are disabled, live with, or work with someone who is disabled, we invite you to download the app directly from the links below, or from our Access Rating website. By taking just a few moments to rate any venue you visit –  be that a hotel, library or shopping centre –  you can help to make our society a more inclusive and enjoyable place to live, work and socialise for disabled people across the UK.

We thank Lois from Talking Mats for the opportunity to connect and share our news, and are delighted to have made new friends who share our passion for building a more inclusive society.

Visit the Access Rating website for further information or download the app directly from Apple and Android stores.

 

RCSLT Survey on Access to Speech and Language Therapy

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Many thanks to Peter Just, Head of External Affairs, RCSLT and Padraigin O’Flynn, External Affairs Assistant, RCSLT for this blog describing the newly launched UK-wide RCSLT Survey, which includes free Talking Mats resources to support those with communication difficulties to have their voices heard.

Like many of you, the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has been worried about the impact of COVID-19 on people with communication and swallowing needs. Based on what we’ve heard from our members, service user organisations and service users themselves we’ve been very concerned about how the UK-wide lockdown (March-June 2020) affected people’s access to the speech and language therapy they and their families and carers need. 

To help us understand the issue better and to inform our response, we’ve just launched a UK-wide survey. Following consultation with service user organisations, the three key questions we’re asking are: 

  • How did lockdown affect your speech and language therapy? 
  • What impact did this have on you? 
  • What are your thoughts about the future? 

From the start, we were clear: we wanted the survey to be as accessible as possible to as many people as possible, no matter how they communicate and no matter what their communication preference is. Over the past couple of months, we’ve worked with members to produce the survey in a range of accessible formats.  

We’re particularly delighted that one of those formats is Talking Mats – and we’re very grateful to Lois and Laura for all their advice and support . As you will know better than anyone, the mats will enable people to give us their views and tell us how they’ve felt and are feeling. We are delighted the mats will provide people with the means to self-advocate – this will add a richness to the survey findings that they might otherwise lack.  

Talking Mats

Well be working with service user organisations to promote the survey to their networks. But we’d also really like your help too. Please share the survey and encourage as many people as possible to fill it out. The more voices we hear, the more stories we collect and the more responses we receive, the greater the impact of the survey findings will be. 

Those findings, which we hope to publish early in the New Year, will be used to influence Governments, Parliaments and Assemblies across the United Kingdom. The case that will be making to ministers, officials and parliamentarians – that people must have access to the speech and language therapy they need – will be all the stronger for it being based on service users’ lived experiences. The very powerful testimony that the mats will provide will strengthen that case even further. 

The survey is open until 5pm on Friday, 8th January 2021 and you can find more information about it here: 

https://www.rcslt.org/learning/has-coronavirus-affected-your-access-to-speech-and-language-therapy 

We hope you find the mats useful and if you had any queries or wanted any more information, please let us know. We look forward to working with you to help make a difference to the lives of people with communication and swallowing needs. 

Peter Just, Head of External Affairs, RCSLT 

Padraigin O’Flynn External Affairs Assistant, RCSLT 

Supporting Children to Understand Hospital Procedures

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Many thanks to Marit Boot, founder of the charity What? Why? Children in Hospital for this guest blog sharing information about the fantastic family-friendly videos they make to help children understand hospital procedures.

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As a mum, I know the worry when your child is ill and needs tests in hospital. It’s the not knowing what is wrong, understanding all the different tests and how to explain them to your child. That’s why I founded the What? Why? Children in Hospital charity to make family-friendly videos about hospital. So when we make a new video explaining a procedure in an easy to understand way, it’s the reaction from parents that makes it worthwhile. The relief, that they now have an idea of what will happen and that they can share the video with their child, it makes their preparation much easier. I want to share with you the story of one of the mums in our latest video. Louise talked to us about Rocco’s gastrostomy feeding tube operation.

“We didn’t have anything like the videos WWCIH make when Rocco first had the gastrostomy surgery. Being a parent in that position is daunting. You want to do what’s right for your child but there’s so much to take in. It isn’t always easy to remember what you’re told in the doctor’s office. So when we had the opportunity to help other worried parents and children by making this video, we jumped at it.”

Thousands of children go through a gastrostomy procedure in Scotland every year. It’s a major procedure and can be a complex idea to communicate to children and anxious parents. In the videos, medical specialists talk through how a gastrostomy feeding tube works, how the procedure is done and how parents should look after the feeding tube at home.

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 The videos are absolutely fantastic! With 32 doctors, nurses and specialists helping to deal with my son’s complex needs, it can be overwhelming to take in information they give to us. These videos are amazing for parents to find out information when they’re ready to absorb it. Even if that’s when you finally get to sit down at 2am.Gastrostomy is major surgery and we had to weigh the risks against the benefits for Rocco’s life. There was so much to take in, about the operation, the aftercare. At one point the doctor used a teddy to show how the tube worked – it was useful but didn’t give the full picture. The videos What? Why? have made cover what you need to know in a calm, thoughtful way. They will be a huge help to worried parents and will help them explain to their child what will happen and why. They should make as many videos as possible!”

 We have 55 videos on our YouTube channel about tests such as MRI, CT, ECG, ultrasounds, allergy tests, breathing tests and sleep studies and we are always making new ones. They’re made in partnership with children’s hospitals in Scotland and are suitable for school-aged children, children with learning difficulties and autism as well as parents and carers from all cultural backgrounds and literacy levels. The videos have already been viewed by 2.8 million families across the world.

If you know a parent or carer who’s worried about their child going to hospital send them to our YouTube page (WWCIH charity), Facebook page (@wwcih) or our website: www.wwcih.org.uk

And if there’s a procedure you think we should look at next, get in touch! We’re here to help children and parents just like you!

info@wwcih.org.uk

Marit Boot, Founder What? Why? Children in Hospital, July 2019

 

Communication Needs in Youth Justice

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Addressing the communication needs of people in youth justice is key to improving lives. The lack of attention to this is costly. On the 17th of April, we organised a seminar to look at the underlying issues and share good practice.

We were delighted with the collaborative mix of people attending. We had representatives from: the Scottish government, the NHS; Third sector organisations working in youth justice, the police, social workers, professional bodies, universities and social work.

Our thanks to Professor Richard Simpson for chairing the day and setting the tone by emphasising from the start  that understanding communication is key to improving service delivery. Following his introduction a series of excellent and stimulating presentations took place creating a fusion of ideas and practice from Scotland and New Zealand.

  • Kim Hartley Kean, head of the Royal College of Speech and language therapy  Scotland office highlighted the current position in Scotland
  • Sally Kedge and Alayne Mckee described the approach adopted by their organisation Talking Trouble in New Zealand.
  • Jane Macer the therapeutic service co-ordinator from Starley Hall Fife described an whole system approach to embedding good communication practice within an organisation
  • Yvonne McKeown and Sandra Polding Speech and Language Therapists working with young people in a NHS inpatient psychiatric unit in Glasgow shared some case examples.

In different ways the speakers brought up very similar themes:

  1. Communication can be treated glibly. There is a lack of understanding of what communication difficulties are and of the impact that they have on the lives of young people. These difficulties are often hidden and take time to identify. Lack of identification can have a huge impact on the future lives of young people.
  2. Finding ways to hear the young person’s voice is key both for the young person but also for organisations in order to deliver appropriate and effective care.
  3. Recognition of the intergenerational cycle and the importance of getting care and support correct so we break patterns and enable change.
  4. Providing collaborative solutions and understanding the breadth of communication will help services improve. However, given services often don’t know what they don’t know in terms of the impact of communication difficulties we have to find ways to express those solutions in language that those services can relate to and understand. Listening to organisations and exploring their processes by analysing the communicative demands of each stage can be a helpful way to start.
  5. Moving forward it is important to knock on open doors i.e. work with people who are receptive to recognising the impact of communication difficulties on young people and their lives but also find the strategic influencers who are sympathetic, in the words of our New Zealand colleagues ‘the aunts and uncles in the field’ who can help to promote the issue and raise awareness at a National level.
  6. You can’t explore the issue of trauma and adverse childhood experiences without certain precursor, building blocks being in place. This takes time and requires a constancy of approach.
  7. The importance of inclusive, visual tools becoming common place so that they are not used in isolation and in a vacuum.
  8. The challenge of supporting and nurturing a young person’s inner voice when they have significant difficulties with language.
  9. Lack of understanding of communication difficulties may lead to services responding to internalized behaviours that can lead to a fork in life; one way can send the young person down a route of offending behaviour services and the other mental health services.
  10. The solutions lie in partnership and collaboration between professions and services.

There were lots of creative ways of using Talking Mats that were shared. A couple of examples that stand out were

  • Using Talking Mats with social workers to help them unpick what they already know about a young person’s language and communication. This approach helped them think about all the different aspects that contribute to communication and where the young person’s strengths and weaknesses lay e.g. non verbal communication , humour , word finding , understanding complex information, understanding simple information etc .
  • Using Talking Mats to support a psychiatric assessment of a young person. One person used his Talking Mat to say he was hearing voices something he was unable to disclose verbally. In this case this enabled an accurate mental state assessment and non-custodial sentence.

I will leave the last word to a young man living in an inpatient unit to support his mental health, his words about communication difficulties are ‘They make you more vulnerable when bad stuff happens’ how true that is and this is why it is important we work together to improve services .

Next steps The community justice network met in the afternoon and were challenged to think about the opportunities and barriers in developing services – read the for blog that covers the afternoon ……… If you missed the seminar and want to join a multiagency network to discuss this and help take this forward in Scotland then please let us know .

Click to read the excellent presentations from the seminar

Care Opinion’s Picture Supported Stories

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Talking Mats were delighted to be involved in the launch of Care Opinion’s Picture Supported stories at the Life Changes Trust Gathering in Perth Scotland this week. We have been working with Care Opinion for the past two years to develop this feature.  This earlier Talking Mats blog describes the development process and this recent Care Opinion blog gives some examples of the feature in use.

However, in this blog,  I want to reflect on two events I went to within a short space of time; the gathering in Perth on Monday and the Royal College of Speech and Language  Therapists study day the previous thursday in Stirling . It felt to me like my two worlds colliding or maybe it was just my stars aligning ! At the RCSLT study there was a session on the public perception of Speech and Language therapy and how there is still much work to do in changing the myths that are spun and repeated about what Speech and Language therapists actually do . For as John F Kennedy said in 1962 ‘ the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie but the myth , persistent, persuasive and unrealistic ´ The  National  Allied Health Professional  children’s lead, Pauline  Beirne suggested to the study day that Care Opinion is a great web site for encouraging that sharing of stories. Then, strangely when I got back into the office there was a story waiting for me in my in box all about the positive experience of a parent involved in a Hanen programme in NHS Lanarkshire  which reinforced that very message.

We know people relate to stories, stories resonate and have impact, they are easy to remember .  Our drive in working in partnership with Care opinion was to support more people to tell their health and care stories  by increasing accessibility . It was designed with and for people with dementia   through funding from Life Changes Trust but anyone can use it and they are! It is great to see the stories coming in.

Through stories let’s celebrate the good, develop and improve practice and let’s use stories to challenge myths and educate. So use Care Opinion and try out the  picture supported stories to share your experiences , tell other people ,spread the word and the picture supported story feature  !