The Cranleigh Communication Framework is a whole school approach to communication development and Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) system. At the end of 2009, we adopted and adapted Gail Van Tatenhove’s AAC system ‘core vocabulary and fringe’ (http://www.vantatenhove.com). This was the beginning of the whole school approach process.
The children, aged 3-12 years, who attend Cranleigh School may have developmental delay, autism spectrum disorders and moderate to severe intellectual or multiple disabilities and nearly all the children have complex communication needs. The school now has a whole school approach to AAC using the ‘core and fringe vocabulary’ with the commitment to give every child the opportunity to access a means of communication, to enable the development of language and enhance the child’s wellbeing. Having a whole school approach to AAC ensures continuity and consistency throughout
the year and from one year to the next; promotes peer to peer communication; gives greater support to the family concerned with the development of their child’s communication and affords the opportunity for the child to develop a robust communication system integral to the child that transfers with them from school to their home, the community, from one year to the next and subsequently to their next school.
There is a culture of communication at Cranleigh where the child’s communication is celebrated across the whole school community. Development of communication is a priority as it is central, enabling all students to be active participants in their learning in all areas and so communication Access is provided everywhere and at all times. Just as the voice is immediately accessible, so the non-verbal person’s system of communication needs to be immediately accessible because it is their voice. Establishing an appropriate communication system for each student further enables them to attain their potential communicatively, socially, emotionally and academically. Time is given to communicate with each child and their attempts are always valued and responded to as far as possible.