Sunday, 1 November 2015

I can ... Reflect!


When you are thinking about AAC on a daily basis, sometimes it's easy to forget about what's really important.  Let's take some time away from thinking about tools and strategies and reflect on the power that AAC really has!
  

Breaking the ICE 2015 Conference!  
A lesson in listening - Reflections from Jan Kraft, CDA

The Breaking the ICE Conference (BTI) is created by and for people who use augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).  This year the conference theme was: "Melting the Barriers: Our Stories". There are many informal and formal opportunities for people to socialize and share ideas. ICE stands for independence, community, and empowerment.

All the presenters used speech generating devices (SGD’s) to talk about their experiences and tips for attending the upcoming International Society forAugmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) 2016 conference which will be in Toronto this year. 

One special feature of the BTI conference is known as “town hall”. During this part of the conference people who use AAC are the only ones allowed to express themselves. The event is always chaired by at least one (sometimes two) people who use AAC (PWUAAC). The Chairs are responsible for determining topics for discussion. They send the topics and/or questions out ahead of the conference so that people can think about and compose messages ahead of time.  However, lots of times the conversation veers off in different directions as people respond to each other.

As a silent observer (because I do not use AAC), I look forward to this event as it teaches me so much. This year I reflect back on it and see that I learned:
·       How to patiently listen and wait for a full message – this quiets my mind;
·       The universal nature of being human – this helps me see the whole person;

·       How important communication is for social closeness and sharing – this reminds me of how important it is for people to express themselves and be actively involved in conversation.

When I pause to think about what I talk about with my friends, I realize that mostly we tell stories about our lives – we tell stories that reveal a little bit about what it’s like to be ourselves and live our lives.

This year Nola Millin chaired with behind the scenes assistance from Paul Marshall. Paul was not able to attend in person, but he did send an inspiring audio message. He said it best, “Town Hall is the heart of the conference”.

My dream is that children just beginning to use AAC will attend the next conference (in 2017) and participate in Town Hall.  The people who use their AAC methods competently will be excellent models for the children. They will learn that they have a right to be heard!

Check out Breaking the ICE Facebook for photos of this year’s conference.
AAC Awareness Month - 2015 
October was AAC awareness month, a time to reflect and a time to spread the word. Across the world many activities took place to shine a light on why augmentative communication is so important for so many. Let's take a quick tour around the globe and reflect on some of the AAC Awareness Activities that took place.

Starting in England...
At the Bridge College in Cheshire, the staff spent a day communicating using only AAC strategies and tools.Their aim was to gain insight into life at the college for students with communication difficulties. Following the experience staff reported being more aware of the challenges facing their students who rely on AAC each and every day. They also noted that their heightened awareness of some of the challenges has resulted in them changing the way they communicate with their students, for example allowing more time for students to respond. Check out the photo gallery and read about their experiences at the link above.

At Smartbox, in Malvern, England, communication aids and cake were combined at the No Speech for Smartbox day! 

In addition to their "Power of Communication" DVD, Communication Matters  has released a few short videos for AAC Awareness month.


In Canada...
In London, Ontario, the Augmentative Communication Service (ACS) at TVCC welcomed other staff members for Movie Time (complete with popcorn)! They showed the following videos and the audience was invited to use AAC strategies to communicate! 

Chris Klein, presenting a Ted Talk: "Seeing Unique Abilities"
Meet Thasya in the Praactical AAC Video of the Week "No Introduction Needed"
Hear "Thomas's Story" on You Tube
 
Moving to Croatia...
A silent coffee took place at the University of Zagreb, at which students interacted with each other using text messages, communication apps, pencil and paper, chalk boards, and manual signs. 

From India:
The Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy (ICCP) showcased the works of Ankur, a disability rights group whose members include a bright group of young people who use AAC.  This year's exhibition presented six Ankur posters with short stories and essays with accompanying paintings and photographs, three Power Point presentations with recorded sound effects, a stylized pictorial booklet and a video by a person who uses AAC, with recorded voice-over, music and sound effects. Some of the works are captured in the photos below.





Finally, from New South Wales....
AAC Voice Inc., a non-profit organization in New South Wales, is having a Halloween Picnic to celebrate International AAC Awareness Month. Press release here and flyer here


Upcoming Events
ATIA 2016 logo
Come to the ATIA Conference! The Assistive Technology Industry Assocation (ATIA) conference is the largest international conference showcasing the best in assistive technology tools and services. Attendees gather from across the world to hear from the biggest names in AT about the latest trends and methods, to view state-of-the-art AT tools, and to network with and learn from fellow professionals and peers. 
Pre-Conference Seminars: February 2-3, 2016 
Main Conference: February 3-6, 2016
 
30th Anniversary Free Access Event
It has been 30 years since the founding of the Augmentative and Alternative Communication journal in 1985. To celebrate this milestone, the AAC journal editors, past and present, and publisher Taylor & Francis are providing key articles free for a period of 30 days. One article will be featured every two weeks, starting in October 2015 to coincide with International AAC Awareness Month, and continuing through November, December, and January.

Now available online:
AAC Interventions for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders: State of the Science and Future Research Directions, Jennifer B. Ganz, AAC, 31, 203-214.


Already online as Free Access:
Early Intervention and AAC: What a Difference 30 Years Makes, MaryAnn Romski, Rose A. Sevcik, Andrea Barton-Hulsey & Ani S. Whitmore, AAC, 31, 181-202.

Workshops at TVCC

Adapted Books - Wednesday December 2nd, 9:00 - 12:00 p.m.
Is your child learning to use symbols for communication?  Does your child have a difficult time holding a book or turning the pages? Come join us for this session and learn how to adapt a book for your child. Participants will need to bring a book that they would like to adapt and later read with their child. Attendees will be asked to provide information about their book ahead of time (e.g. title and author) so that materials for adapting the book can be prepared for the workshop.  Picture books with limited text are most easily adapted but please choose a book that you think will be engaging for your child. 


Improving Communication for Children and Youth with ASD
Date: Wednesday February 10, 2016
Time: 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. OR 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Location: TVCC Office -  779 Base Line Road E, London
Cost: Free
Register Register Online for the noon session OR Register online for the 6pm session
This program is for parents, caregivers and those in the community who support children and youth with Autism. It is designed to provide information about typical development of language and communication, identify how communication affects a child with Autism and to discuss strategies that can be used to increase effective language and communication.


Children’s Health FoundationHoliday Home Tour 
November 6-8

Holiday Home Tour 2015

It’s time again for one of our favourite holiday traditions – Children’s Holiday Home Tour. From November 6-8, homeowners in London and the surrounding area will generously open their doors and welcome you into their homes for a tour of the best design the city has to offer. Top designers and florists will transform five homes to inspire you and spark your holiday spirit.
Support this festive event to give a lasting gift - making a difference in the lives of kids at Thames Valley Children’s Centre. This regional resource provides exceptional programs and rehabilitation services for children and youth with disabilities and special needs.
- See more at: http://chfou.convio.net/site/Calendar?id=100141&view=Detail#sthash.9q5eL24Q.dpuf%20%20

Holiday Home Tour 2015

It’s time again for one of our favourite holiday traditions – Children’s Holiday Home Tour. From November 6-8, homeowners in London and the surrounding area will generously open their doors and welcome you into their homes for a tour of the best design the city has to offer. Top designers and florists will transform five homes to inspire you and spark your holiday spirit.
Support this festive event to give a lasting gift - making a difference in the lives of kids at Thames Valley Children’s Centre. This regional resource provides exceptional programs and rehabilitation services for children and youth with disabilities and special needs.
- See more at: http://chfou.convio.net/site/Calendar?id=100141&view=Detail#sthash.9q5eL24Q.dpuf%20%20
It’s time again for one of our favourite holiday traditions – Children’s Holiday Home Tour. Homeowners in London and the surrounding area will generously open their doors and welcome you into their homes for a tour of the best design the city has to offer. Top designers and florists will transform five homes to inspire you and spark your holiday spirit. Support this festive event to give a lasting gift - making a difference in the lives of kids at Thames Valley Children’s Centre. This regional resource provides exceptional programs and rehabilitation services for children and youth with disabilities and special needs.

Start your planning for Toronto 2016!

ISAAC 2016 Toronto - Bringing Us Together

August 6 - 13 2016 

ISAAC is excited to announce that the 17th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, ISAAC 2016, will be held at The Westin Harbour Castle hotel in Toronto, Canada on August 6-13, 2016.  Join us for keynotes, exhibits, workshops, social events, seminars, and the Research Symposium.