Barnsley is the first football club in the UK to undertake Communication Access training and commit to supporting people with speech, language and communication disabilities.  Reds in the Community, the registered charity which delivers community and charitable activities on behalf of Barnsley Football Club, has also signed up to the multi-award-winning initiative.

The Communication Access Symbol, launched last November with underpinning training and standards, was created for businesses, organisations and consumers by the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), in partnership with the Stroke Association, Headway, MND Association, Business Disability Forum, Communication Matters, The Makaton Charity, and the National Network of Parent Carer Forums. The partnership is known as Communication Access UK (CAUK).

Communication disability in the UK affects millions of people. Up to 20% of the UK’s population experience communication difficulty at some point in their lives, and more than 10% (1.4 million) of all children have a long-term communication need.

Nick Hewer, President of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, says:

“People who have communication difficulties often feel marginalised by society because their needs can be hidden in a way that other disabilities are not

“Achieving the Communication Access UK standards and displaying the symbol is a great way for organisations to show they value all their customers by being keen and able to communicate inclusively with people who currently have difficulties accessing their services. It’s a lifeline for millions of people, so I’m delighted that Barnsley FC and Reds in the Community have embraced this important initiative.”

Barnsley FC’s Chief Executive Officer, Khaled El-Ahmad, added:

“Our Club has a number of touchpoints, both of digital and physical nature, and it is integral that we provide the best service possible to supporters. Knowing that we are making strides to communicate in an inclusive manner is positive, as we look to improve our offering and overall experience for individuals living with disabilities at Oakwell. I must thank Barnsley Hospital’s Assistive Technology Service and Communication Access UK for their continued guidance and support.”

Reds in the Community Chair of Trustees, Simon Biltcliffe, commented:

“We’re delighted to become part of the Communication Awareness UK network. Every year, we engage over 15,000 local children, young people and adults across Barnsley in activities and projects to improve their health, wellbeing, learning and life chances. The CAUK accreditation will enable us to better support our service users by improving how we communicate. It will help us to become more communication accessible and inclusive. We’re excited to be working in partnership with Barnsley FC and Barnsley Hospital to take this forward.”

Barnsley Football Club and Reds in the Community worked closely with Barnsley Hospital’s Assistive Technology Service to gain accreditation to the CAUK initiative.

 Charlie Moran, Clinical Specialist – Speech and Language Therapist here at Barnsley Hospital, said:

“The Barnsley Assistive Technology Service is CAUK accredited and our team supports people with communication difficulties to be independent by providing them with electronic assistive technologies. We want better communication access for everyone who uses our service, which is why we are raising awareness of the fantastic CAUK training that’s available to the public.

“We’ve been delighted to work closely with Barnsley FC and Reds in the Community and support their communication accessible journey, by sharing our knowledge of communication impairments with them enabling them to see the impact these have on people’s everyday lives.”

To find out more and register for Communication Access Training, visit: Communication Access UK