Alternative Forms of Communication

Communication needs at Highfurlong

On entering school pupils have a full assessment of their Speech, Language and Communication needs and are allocated a specific Speech and Language Therapist to work with them and class staff on their strategies. Parents are given a full report on their child’s Speech and Language and a copy of future targets as part of their annual collaborative meeting.

For our pupils who have complex communication needs they may need to use alternative forms of communication. In partnership with parents and class staff we provide ongoing in-depth assessments and pupils will have the opportunity to trial different devices to ensure we find the right fit for them.

At Highfurlong we pride ourselves on being a local centre of expertise in the field of AAC. We have a Communication Team consisting of an AAC Manager, 3 Speech and Language Therapists and a Therapy Assistant.

We are a communication inclusive school. Within school we use many different forms of communication such as signing, eye pointing, objects of reference, symbols, gestures, words and high tech AAC devices. Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) is any form of aided communication system and we have several users who use high tech AAC with voice output.

The majority of our communication aids are provided by school, however, should a child need access to a high tech device such as voice output equipment or eye-gaze technology we would liaise with the ACE Centre North on the suitability of funding such equipment.

When considering a communication device the team not only look at the language level but also a child’s vision, how they would physically access the aid and where appropriate, mounting to their wheelchair.

With any form of communication strategy or device we offer full support to children, parents and staff. Our aim is for our pupils to be as independent as possible

Assistive Technology

Many of our pupils require special access technology in order for them to access not only the computer but their environment.

Each child in school receives an assessment from our AAC Manager alongside our Occupational Therapist if necessary and a report for class staff as how to best support their physical needs.

This report features in the child’s annual collaborative meeting and includes strategies and targets for progression.

The Highfurlong Communication Aids and 
Assistive Technology Team (CAAT Team).

In 2015 Highfurlong communication team established the Highfurlong Communication Aids and Assistive Technology Team (CAAT Team). In June 2016 Dancing on Ice Champion Dan Whiston opened the Communication Room which is a bespoke area to trial equipment, train staff and carry out assessments.

The Highfurlong CAAT team consists of Sarah Alderman (Specialist Speech and Language Therapist) and Erica Smith (Communication Team Coordinator for Education).

The team assess individuals with physical and cognitive disabilities who have complex communication difficulties and may be  non-verbal or have unclear speech. They then provide a report with recommendations and advice regarding alternative forms of communication. There is an option to trial equipment on a short term basis, to find the most suitable means of communication for the individual.

We also offer support and advice for those who need assistive technology in their educational setting for work output. Bespoke training and support can also be provided to support the individual, family and wider support network. To date we have supported schools, colleges and adult service providers with assessments, staff training and equipment loans.

Dan Whiston helps to open a new Communications Room at Highfurlong School. He is pictured with Summer Van Bogerijan, Liam Davidson and sponsors from Blackpool Sixth Form and Beaverbrooks.

The CAAT Team are listed on Blackpool’s Local Offer.

Please see our eligibility criteria and contact Erica Smith to arrange an appointment at: