§ Mr. Rossi
The provision of communication aids for the speech impaired through the health service is a matter for individual health authorities, apart from the special arrangements under which a typewriter control system may be provided from central funds to severely disabled people who meet certain eligibility criteria and who are also eligible for an environmental control system. At present contracts are made with only one manufacturer. In reaching decisions about its procurement policy, the Department takes account of all relevant views including in this instance medical assessors. Meetings with these consultants are arranged from time to time and one is scheduled for November of this year.
§ Mr. Field
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what consultations he has had with handicapped people and organisations representing them before he arrived at the view that synthetic speech devices currently available are of only limited use to persons who have permanently lost the power of speech.
§ Mr. Rossi
Officials of the Department have been in touch with a number of individuals and with the Parliamentary Information Technology Committee about the application of microelectronic technology in the aids field. Three officials are observers on the Advisory Group set up by the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation, which represents the United Kingdom on the International project on Communication Aids for the Speech Impaired (IPCAS). The part which synthetic speech aids can play in helping people who have156W permanently lost the power of speech depends upon clinical and other factors pertaining to each patient and I have reached no conclusions as to their general usefulness.