As from 19 March 2018 the AAC law started, which means that every health board in Scotland must provide AAC equipment and support to children and adults who require AAC to communicate.
There was a lot of work put into making AAC the law for many years, from speech therapists, people who use AAC, lawyers, people from different organizations and people from the Scottish Parliament to make this law happen. Also, as I am a AAC user, I was very involved in making AAC the law myself.
For many years I have been a part of a few AAC steering groups, spoke at a few conferences, met people from Scottish Parliament and a lot more. It was really important to me to be really involved in making this law happen, because I know how difficult having no voice and not be able to talk is. Although, I am one of lucky ones who got a Communication device and support no problem! But I know that there are people out there who had to fight for their Communication devices or AAC support and that’s not right at all. No one should have to fight for their own voice, but this new law should make things better for those who had to fight before.
Some people who are reading this may think oh ok no big deal! But this law is a big deal for so many people in Scotland because AAC opens up a new world for so many people who can’t talk themselves.
A very good example of how AAC changes people’s lives for the better is Steven Hawking. Steven had MND from a very young age and due to having MND lost his voice and therefore he used a Communication device to communicate. And without AAC Steven wouldn’t have done half of the things that he did in his life. People see Steven as the greatest scientist ever but for someone like myself who uses AAC, Steve was someone who I looked up to and think well, he was disabled and used AAC like me and he did a lot of amazing things in his life, so there’s nothing stopping anyone from doing anything. So having this law in Scotland is really important to lots of people.
I have been using Communication devices from a young age, so if I needed a Communication device the education board always funded my Communication device without problems. But it was a big worry for me once I left school that I wouldn’t get any funding for any Communication devices in the future, but like I said before I am one of these lucky people who got funding and support from a speech therapist to get a new Communication device. But it always worries me that someday I won’t get any help or funding for any future Communication devices. But now, with this law in place I feel like that I don’t need to worry any more that will I get funding.
Another part of the AAC law is the time factor and what I mean by that is, if someone loses their voice, they should get help from a speech therapist and any equipment that they need to communicate right away (like the next day) because no one must go for a long period of time without being able to speak, no way at all.
Also, making awareness of AAC is a big part of the law. Making awareness of AAC is really important in the new law too. Quite a lot of people out there don’t know what is AAC? Or what is a Communication device? Or how to talk to someone who uses a Communication device? And it is really a shame that a lot of people don’t know anything about AAC, because communication is the key to life! As I am someone who uses a Communication device I do get a lot of people who ask me what is that, meaning my Communication device, or people don’t know how to talk to me because I use a Communication device, and that’s not right because everyone should feel comfortable to talk anyone that they want, so making awareness of AAC is really important to have in the new AAC law.
I hope having this new law will make Scotland a better place for people who use AAC because no one should have to fight for their own voice and everyone has the right to speak and to be heard.
To get more info about the AAC law