FAQs - ACTU

1. What services does ACTU provide? 

ACTU provides two main services; the Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) service and the Electronic Assistive Technology (EAT) service. ACTU also provides one off consultation appointments in our Information Days.

The services we provide include clinical assessment, recommendations, initial implementation, technical and training support for AAC devices. ACTU also provide similar supports for the EAT service. 


2. Who can make use of ACTU’s services?

ACTU provides services to individuals with complex communication needs; physical and /or sensory difficulties; speech, language and communication needs; and/or learning disabilities; and their families.


3. What is AAC?

AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication. AAC refers to a range of strategies and tools which are used to support someone to communicate when they have difficulty with talking in a way that everyone can understand. Examples of AAC include communication books, PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), VOCAs (Voice Output Communication Aids), and key word signing. 


4. What is EAT?

EAT stands for Electronic Assistive Technology. It describes a range of equipment including environmental controls systems, communication aid equipment and equipment used for overcoming problems with accessing computer technology. 


5. Do you have an adult service? 

The main ACTU services are offered to individuals up to the age of 16. However, we offer one-off appointments for adults in our Information Day. We also offer information days to students who are accessing full-time education and are beyond the age of 16.  


6. Who is eligible for an AAC assessment at ACTU?

Children under the age of 16 may be referred to ACTU if they have achieved cause and effect skills and are able to make a choice between two objects with intent. If you are not sure if your child has achieved these skills please discuss this with your Speech and Language Therapist who must make the referral. 


7. Who is eligible for an EAT assessment at ACTU?

Children under the age of 16 may be referred to ACTU by a professional or a member of the School Management Team. A child is eligible for an EAT assessment if he/she meets the following criteria:
  • Children under the age of 16 should present with significant physical disability, predominately with upper limb impairments that result in them being unable to use standard controls, for example computer mice, keyboards, touch screens, mobile phones and/or remote controls.
  • Cognitively able to operate Environmental Control (EC) equipment consistently.
  • Able to demonstrate sustained motivation to use the EC equipment.
  • Where the child is diagnosed with a variable condition (e.g. a progressive neurological condition), the above criteria can be applied with regards to the child’s anticipated needs and abilities within a clinically appropriate time period. Referrals can be accepted on this basis.

The following exclusion criteria also applies to the service:
  • ​In situations when non-specialist solutions to the identified needs of the child are available and appropriate e.g. the use of standard keyboard and mouse, referral to ACTU is not needed.


8. Who can make a referral to ACTU?

For AAC referrals, the referral should be made by the Speech and Language Therapist. If you are an educator interested in making an AAC referral, please speak to the child’s Speech and Language Therapist. 

For EAT, referrals are accepted from the child’s Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist or Speech and Language Therapists. A member of the School Senior Management Team may also make EAT referrals.


9. How do you make a referral to ACTU? 

If you are a parent concerned about your child’s communication skills consult with your child’s Speech and Language Therapist. For EAT referrals you may speak with your Occupational Therapist/ Physiotherapist/Speech and Language Therapist/School Head of Inclusion.

If you are a professional, you can download the ACTU referral form and guidance to support you to fill the form. 

You can send the referral and additional reports to us by post or deliver the referral by hand at our premises during opening hours.


10. Do I need an appointment to meet the therapists at ACTU? 

If you have never attended ACTU before you need to be referred to meet with the therapist. 
If you are not eligible but would still like to meet a therapist you can book an appointment for an information day.

For AAC appointments you will need to discuss this with your Speech and Language Therapist. Alternatively you can speak to an ACTU team member by calling 216539991.


11. What should I bring to the ACTU appointment?

If your child is already using some kind of AAC system please bring it with you to the session. It helps us to understand your child better if we can see what he/she is already using even if he/she is having difficulty using it. Your child might be using visuals at school/home e.g. schedules. Please bring a sample of these too. 

If your child has been referred for an EAT assessment to find alternative means of recording please bring samples of your child’s handwriting and school work if this is applicable to your child.


12. What happens in an AAC/EAT assessment? 

When you are referred, the Team will decide which therapists are appropriate for your child’s assessment. You will meet with a Speech and Language Therapist and possibly an Occupational Therapist if your child has been referred for an AAC assessment. 

If you have been referred for an EAT assessment you will meet with an Occupational Therapist. Your therapists will also be invited and you can ask your LSE or other members of the school team to attend. ACTU is keen to collaborate with anyone that is important in your child’s life.

In the first session we will ask you some questions about how your child communicates and uses their hands. We will also observe your child during play and natural situations. We will also ask your child to do some things with us e.g. play with toys or use a computer. We might ask your child to try out some of our equipment. 

ACTU may also offer some appointments online.


13. Do I have to pay for an ACTU assessment?

All sessions at ACTU are free of charge.


14. Can I borrow equipment to try out? 

We offer the possibility of equipment trials where you are given the opportunity to take equipment for a specific time period and try these at home, school and all other environments. The need for trial equipment is usually identified during the AAC/EAT assessment and will be discussed with parents and therapists during the assessment. Although we do not have all equipment available for trial purposes we will do our best to accommodate your needs. 

Therapists can discuss the possibility of trialing equipment with their clients with ACTU team members by calling 21653991 or emailing actu.sapport@gov.mt​. An appointment can also be made for an Information Day by therapists to look at equipment with a view to loaning it.


15. How do I get the equipment that ACTU has recommended for my child?

ACTU makes recommendations for equipment but does not provide it. Your ACTU therapists will help you to find funding sources so that you can buy the equipment. One source of funding is the Empowerment Scheme by Aġenzija Sapport. 



16. What are ACTU’s opening hours? 

Our opening hours are as follows:
Monday: 08:00 - 16:00
Tuesday – Friday: 08:00 - 14:30

We are an appointment based service and do encourage you to speak to your therapist should you need further assistance.


17. What free resources does ACTU provide? 

ACTU provides low-tech AAC material according to need of the client. 
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