Communication Friendly Environments (CFE)
Encouraging schools and settings to make their environments 'Communication Friendly' links into their duty to increase site accessibility, in line with the Disability Discrimination Act.
Access is required for all students with a disability, not just relating to the environment. All aspects of teaching and learning should be accessible - including experiences and understanding. One strategy for supporting this accessibility is to use materials differentiated with symbols. This also links to Warwickshire's SEN self-evaluation framework, which has a section on 'accessibility of the learning environment'.
In 2002 a one day CFE course was established as 'entitlement' training for all Warwickshire schools.This was joint training between DISCS Speech and Language Team and local Speech Therapists from the Warwickshire Primary Care Trust. .The training was free. Staff from Primary, Special, Secondary and SEN support services attended. Course participants were encouraged to set an achievable target for their setting at the end of the day. When progress had been made, a half day visit would be set up with the SIP TA to offer support and set future goals.
In 2005 whole school CFE training was given on the school premises as it was felt this may be a more useful way for school staff to assess their own environment. This allowed all staff to be involved, encouraging ownership of the idea. The morning session was about CFE in the wider sense, and in the afternoon Speech and Language Team staff supported individual school staff members in classrooms, looking at how to make them 'Communication Friendly'. Coaches were identified from the Speech and Language Team staff, and they continued to support school staff to put in place targets identified in an action plan. This coaching role in schools and settings is on going.
To help schools identify a base line of where they were in the CFE journey, three Audit Booklets were created. These have been reviewed and updated on a regular basis. These enable identification of specific targets, and also demonstrate progress to date.
- Strand 1 - A survey of visual support systems currently in place.
- Strand 2- A survey of communication - the teacher adapting their presentation according to the environment and situation
- Strand 3 - A survey of the environment
An illustrated booklet is available describing ways, with illustration, in which environments can be made to be more 'communication friendly'. It has been designed so that the information could easily be personalised for individual schools.
Download: CFE Booklet