Bilingual Assessment Materials for Speech and Language Developed by Belfast Trust

Jul 162014
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Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Black Sheep Press have recently signed a licence agreement in relation to new bilingual assessment materials, FLAC (Functional Language Across Countries).

FLAC is a collection of materials developed by speech and language therapists (SLTs) in the Belfast Trust, for use by SLTs who assess the early language skills of bilingual and non-English-speaking children.

FLAC is a language sampling resource that allows users to examine the emerging communication and language skills of children (and more recently adults) in a range of languages. It is an inclusive tool which supports consistent interpreting and recording practices and engages parents in the assessment process.

The components of language selected for inclusion in FLAC was determined by an examination of functional elements of language that were common to as many world languages as possible.

Four images showing the assessment process underway.

Assessment Process: Use of FLAC allows efficiency in assessment planning and enables SLTs to actively engage in dynamic assessment with the child whose first language is not English. The assessment process is collaborative and success is achieved through establishment of a robust rapport between child, parent, interpreter and SLT, a clear understanding of respective roles and a positive working relationship.

To date, the SLTs in Belfast Trust have developed FLAC in thirteen languages for use within the trust.  Four versions of FLAC (Polish, Spanish. Slovak  and Lithuanian) have been completed and are available for purchase from Black Sheep Press. The others will be made available for purchase once monitoring and revision is completed.

Florence Millar Wilson says “This resource is the first of its kind. Speech-language therapists find that it is time-efficient, improves assessment access for clients, and provides information for clinical decision-making; interpreters report it to be user-friendly; and parents report that it yields a true sample of their child’s speech-language skills.”

Photo of the four people who developed the tool

Daniel Perskawiec, Interpreter, Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Interpreting Service, with the team who developed FLAC: Florence Millar-Wilson, Clinical Lead Speech-Language Therapist, Bilingualism; Laura McGuiggan, Senior Speech-Language Therapist; and Brona Trolan, Senior Speech-Language Therapist (all Belfast Health and Social Care Trust)

Professor Ian Young, Director of Research for the Belfast Trust said: “The trust is delighted to have worked in partnership with Black Sheep Press to support this exciting development which has the potential to improve our services for patients and ensure Northern Ireland is at the forefront of innovation in health.”

HSC Innovations facilitated the deal with Black Sheep Press. Dr David Brownlee of HSC Innovations said:  “This collaboration between industry and the HSC demonstrates the value of working with practising clinicians to identify technology opportunities and to develop new products for healthcare. These products can help to secure real improvements in healthcare practices locally, nationally and globally.” Dr Brownlee also encourages HSC staff with innovative ideas to improve patient care to contact HSC Innovations for further assistance and support in developing these ideas into products that will ultimately benefit patients.

For more information relating to FLAC – please contact Florence Millar-Wilson, Clinical Lead Speech-Language Therapist: Bilingualism,  The Arches Centre, Westminster Avenue North, Belfast BT4 1NS; e-mail:

A sample of the resource can be viewed on the website of Black Sheep Press.