Hearing access specialists
Hearing access specialists

A small group of work colleagues sit in a cluster looking at a laptop screen

A campaign is underway in Scotland for an Inclusive Communication Law.  The importance of inclusive communication (also sometimes known as accessible communication) is being increasingly recognised elsewhere in the UK too.

An Inclusive Communication Law would require organisations and services to ensure they take steps to make communication more possible and easier for anyone who experiences communication difficulties.

The need for inclusive communication is already written into the 2018 Social Security Act.  An Inclusive Communication Law would make this essential everywhere.

The campaign is being led by the Inclusive Communication Alliance, a collaboration of individuals and groups, including Ideas for Ears, who are working to improve inclusive communication.  It comprises:

  • deafscotland
  • Disability Equality Scotland
  • Ideas for Ears
  • Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
  • Sense Scotland

What is inclusive communication?

Inclusive communication is delivered in a way that is matched to the communication strengths and preferences of those being communicated with.  It allows everyone involved in the communication interaction to take part on an equal footing, with this protected as a human right.

Inclusive communication is about enabling people to:

  1. Receive and perceive communication – this includes hearing, seeing, and sensing in any way a sound, sight, touch, taste, smell, movement.
  2. Understand and comprehend communication – interpret it as intended by the person who produced the communication
  3. Express themselves – encouraging and respecting everyone’s right to produce a message by whatever means a person chooses (e.g. by gesture, sign, picture)

Successful communication requires meaningful messages to go “in” (to be received and understood) and to go “out” (be responded to through one or more methods of expression).

How does it fit with hearing access?

For inclusive communication to be delivered, there must be hearing access.  The requirement to ensure people can ‘receive and perceive’ communication cannot otherwise be achieved.

Hearing access makes it more possible for more people to more easily hear and follow the spoken word and other audible information.

It deals with:

  1. Building design (acoustics)
  2. Provision of equipment (sound systems, including microphones, loudspeakers and hearing loops)
  3. Organisational behaviour (how things are set up and run and how information is shared)
  4. Human behaviour (how people speak and communicate, and what they do and don’t do)
  5. Culture (awareness, understanding and empathy)

Inclusive communication recognises that we ALL have the capability to communicate and be involved in communication, so long as the form of communication is right for us.

Share your comments below or email us.

Email the Ideas for Ears team

5 responses to “Inclusive Communication – what it is and why it matters”

  1. Hi there
    Can you please explain to me why this is only being set up in Scotland and not the rest of the UK?
    I live in North Yorkshire & suffered from a sudden hearing loss last year. There is absolutely nothing in my area for me to turn to for help & support, other than online groups. I feel very strongly that what you’re doing here is absolutely vital to the rest of us and that we shouldn’t be felt so isolated – especially during this dreadful pandemic. Thank you

    • Hi Lynne,
      I am sorry and saddened to learn that support is not available in your area. Adjusting to sudden hearing loss is not easy. You will get there, even if it doesn’t feel like that now, but it does take time. It is definitely made easier with the support and encouragement of people who understand the challenges. I’m glad you’re in contact with online groups. Do also take a look at our ‘Talk It Through Service’ in case you feel that might it might help. Finally, I agree that it is a real pity when good work stops at the border (either way). Scotland has a different legal structure and, of course, the Scottish Parliament, so often has to be handled separately to elsewhere in the UK. We are also fortunate in Scotland that we have some individuals and organisations who are very passionate about inclusive communication and this is driving action and momentum. There is some activity going on in England and elsewhere, because whilst the pandemic has brought horrendously tough challenges to people with hearing loss, it has also exposed those challenges.
      Please stay in touch.
      All good wishes, Sally

  2. As usual, Ideas for Ears are at the cutting edge when it comes to new developments for the hard of hearing. In fact I know of no other organisation that champions people with hearing difficulties. Please keep up the good work!

    • Hi Alan, thank you for those kind words. It really means a lot to receive such feedback. Everyone involved with Ideas for Ears has hearing loss or has very personal connection to someone who does. We feel the challenges and we do what we can to direct our shoestring resources to where we feel we can make a difference. Best wishes, Sally

  3. To my ears, the phrase “inclusive communication” sounds better than “accessible communication”. As well as all the other laudable goals of the campaign, I could imagine some emphasis on educating people with good hearing, as I am constantly struck by the widespread misconceptions. I suppose this is part of the “cultural” aspect, but culture is rather a wishy-washy word.

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