Free training to help you learn about inclusive communication

What does it mean to communicate in an accessible and inclusive way?

What is the TALK framework and how can it help you communicate?*

Communication is not simply about the ability to speak but also the ability to hear and understand what is said to us. This lies at the very core of human dignity.

Millions of people across the United Kingdom have communication difficulties, including both adults and children.

Communication difficulties can occur for a range of reasons and leave millions without a voice, denying them equality of access and opportunity.

I recently discovered the excellent Communication Access UK website via the Royal College Of Speech and Language Therapists. The description of communication above comes from them and it resonates with me.

One of the many responsibilities we have as professional communicators is increasing access to communication. I’ve been trying to improve my knowledge of inclusive communication, particularly augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

Jargon buster: Augmentative means to add to someone’s speech. Alternative means to be used instead of speech. Some people use AAC throughout their life. Others may use AAC only for a short time, perhaps after having surgery, when they can’t talk. You can find out more about AAC via the Communication Matters website.

*The TALK framework is part of the training and stands for Time, Ask, Listen (and Look), Keep trying.

Will I always get everything right? No.

But I’m willing to try and make communication inclusive for all.

What are communication difficulties?

Shop front displaying communication access symbolSome people may find it hard to ask a question, name an object or ask for help, while others may have speech difficulties that make them difficult to understand.

Others may have problems processing information and difficulties with reading and writing. Some may use communication devices and require time to create their message.

Millions of people across the United Kingdom have communication difficulties, including both adults and children.

People with a range of conditions including cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, Down’s syndrome, autism, hearing impairment, stroke, brain injury, head and neck cancers, Parkinson’s disease, motor neurone disease, dementia and many more experience communication difficulties.

People without any specific conditions might also experience communication difficulties for a range of reasons. Communication difficulties leave millions without a voice, denying them equality of access and opportunity.

The Communication Access Symbol and training will support inclusive communication for all.

How many people have communication difficulties?

Communication Access UK is an initiative developed in partnership by charities and organisations, with a shared vision to improve the lives of people with communication difficulties. It was launched in November 2020.

They say 1 in 5 of people in the UK will experience a communication difficulty at some point in their lives, 10 % of all children and young people have some form of long-term communication need, up to 90 % of people with a learning disability have a communication need and 1 in 3 stroke survivors will develop a communication difficulty.

Led by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, the partnership includes:

Together, they’ve developed the Communication Access Symbol, a new disability access symbol underpinned by a completely free training package and standards.

You can see the symbol below.

The Communication Access symbol for the UK

Free training via Communication Access

Communication Access offers free training and encourages individuals and organisations to learn about inclusive communication. I recommend checking it out.

You’ll learn about the Access Symbol and what it represents, plus practical advice to help you aid communication in your personal and professional life.

I’m proud to have completed my training and have now applied for accreditation for All Things IC Limited. It has sparked a lot of ideas for me and I know other IC pros will benefit from it too.

This weekend, my upcoming Candid Comms podcast episode focuses on accessibility in internal communication. It draws on my own experience as someone with hearing loss, and points IC pros towards resources, including Communication Access UK.

I’m sharing this information to help people who want to learn more about inclusive communication. It’s an excellent area of focus for your professional development. I’ve already identified multiple ways to implement what I’ve learnt.

Who can sign up for the training?

According to the Communication Access UK website, it has been developed for both organisations and individuals.

Anyone can sign up to Communication Access UK and complete the training package.

Individuals will receive certificates confirming that they have completed the training, while organisations will receive accreditation as Communication Accessible once they have committed to deliver the training and adhere to the standards.

Organisations will then be placed on a national directory and can then display the Communication Access Symbol. Both certificates and accreditation are valid for 12 months and will need to renewed annually.

Communication Access UK has been developed to be 100% free. Do check out the Communication Access UK website for more information.

How are you making your internal communication inclusive? As ever, I’d love to know what you’re doing inside your organisation. If you have a story to share, please see my guidelines and get in touch.

PRCA accessible communication guidelines

Further reading via All Things IC

Thank you for stopping by,


Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 18 January 2022.

Image credits: Communication Access UK.

Are you the most senior Comms pro in your company? I'm hosting a Comms Director Mastermind at my office on 30 March 2022. Come and join me for the day in London.


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