Monday, 7 March 2016

I Can...explore the world of AAC!!!

Sometimes it can be tricky to know what's going on out there that might be of interest to you .  This month, we're highlighting information about many different camps and workshops that you and/or your child who uses AAC might want to attend. Grab your planner, because there's lots going on!
ISAAC 2016 Toronto - Bringing Us Together 
The ISAAC 17th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, 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.

Also a part of this year's conference are AAC Camps that  offer a “day camp” experience for participants of all ages who use AAC. Campers and their families will have the opportunity to socialize during a variety of recreational activities leading up to the conference. Earlybird pricing available until May 20, 2016 so register soon!!!. Each camper under the age of 19 must at all times be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian in order to participate in AAC Camp activities. Space is limited so register early to reserve your spot. Additional family members are welcome to attend some of the camps at an extra cost per activity.

A Morning on Centre Island, Saturday August 6, 9:30–12:30

Ages 3 – 13, Cost $60 ($50 Early Bird Registration)
It’s a short trip on the accessible Toronto Island Ferry across Lake Ontario to Centre Island. Spend the morning exploring Far Enough Farm and Centreville Amusement Park. Campers will participate in games and activities guiding them around the area. Far Enough Farm is home to over 40 different species of farmyard animals and exotic birds.

Dealing with Stupid Situations, Saturday August 6, 9:30–12:30 
Ages 13 +, Cost $60 ($50 Early Bird Registration)
Do you ever come across someone who just does not understand how to communicate with you? They may yell, speak slowly, talk about you like you are not in the room, or just assume you do not understand. You are the best teacher when it comes to educating people about how to communicate with you. This camp will focus on sharing what has worked and not worked when communicating with people you do not know. You will participate in role playing some silly and serious scenarios that you or your peers may have experienced. We will also have time to talk about them and create a poster listing our best strategies to share with all conference participants. This workshop will take place at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.

Explore the “Ark”, Saturday August 6, 2:00–5:00 
All ages, Cost $60 ($50 early bird registration)
Take a walk on the wild side and join us for this interactive animal adventure. Be greeted by your favourite animals from Madagascar, Africa, and Australia. Your camp experience will include a presentation about approximately 24 different animals and participants will have a chance to interact with the animals, take photos, and ask questions. This camp will take place at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.

Engaging Possibilities Drama Workshops, Sunday August 7th 2016, 9:30–5:00  

Ages 14+, Cost $180 ($160 early bird registration)
The Engaging Possibilities workshop is constructed as a journey. First we do exercises to help with relaxation, building comfort levels, and creating a sense of inclusion. Energy and visioning exercises will follow, to expand imagination and visualize worlds together. We will bring alive environments using fabric, and be part of creating and acting in a story as it emerges. This camp will take place at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.

Ripley’s Aquarium
Sunday August 7, 9:30–12:30 
Aquarium of Canada
All ages, Cost $60 ($50 early bird registration). Join us for a fun morning exploring one of Toronto’s newest attractions, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, featuring underwater creatures and habitats from across the globe, including a shark tank that you can view on the moving sidewalk. Campers will participate in a guided tour of the venue, pet a stingray, take part in our scavenger hunt, and explore the dangerous lagoon under glass. At the end each camper will receive a Ripley’s souvenir booklet. The aquarium has accessible washrooms, walk ways, and a cafeteria. Best of all, this venue is only one kilometre away (approx. 12 minute walk/wheel) by fairly smooth sidewalks from the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.

Who Are Your Heroes? Sunday August 7, 2:00–5:00,   
Ages 13+, Cost $60 ($50 early bird registration)
Many great people in the world use AAC. Let’s spend some time celebrating them. Who do you look up to? Who makes you want to be a better person? Who is someone that makes a difference in your life? This camp will start with a presentation by a hero in our community. The rest of the camp will focus on sharing our heroes, who they are, why we love them, and how we can be more like them. This workshop will take place at the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.

Feel like a trip a little further from home?

Applications for the ICAN Talk AAC Summer Camp in Pittsburgh can now be submitted! Dates for this year's camp are July 27-30th. This year's theme is "Naturally!" and we have an exciting program of activities planned to help young AAC users develop and practice their communication skills while they learn about nature and the environment.   
The camp takes place at the Crowne Plaza Pittsburgh South, and is open to children and young adults between the ages of 5 and 21 who use AAC to communicate. Beginners and experienced AAC users are welcome to attend. Each camper must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian and is assigned a camp counselor for one-on-one support during the program.
The camp program includes a welcome pool party, a full day of therapeutic activities, a dance party, shopping trip, and excursion to a local attraction. While campers engage in therapeutic activities, parents are invited to attend an all-day AAC Training Seminar with Katya Hill, Ph.D., CCC-CLP, Executive Director of the AAC Institute and Associate Professor, Dept. of Communication Sciences & Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Volunteers needed for the ICAN TALK AAC Summer Camp!  If you are a certified speech-language pathologist or university student training to work with children with disabilities and are interested in donating your time in exchange for the opportunity to work with a variety of AAC users, application is available on our website now. If you have any questions about volunteering, please contact Will Martin, Volunteer Coordinator, at

Camp Registration The registration fee for one camper and their accompanying adult is US$ 400 and includes all program meals, activities, the AAC Parent Training seminar, and excursion transportation. Space is limited, so be sure to register early! If you have any questions or need further information, please contact Evelyn Meinert, Camp Coordinator, at or call 412-402-0900. Apply now!

If you are planning to stay closer to home, here's what's happening at TVCC:


How to Choose Powerful Words  
This program is for parents/caregivers and anyone supporting a child using a low tech Augmentative Communication board, whether they are currently supported by an Augmentative Communication Service clinician, another TVCC clinician or community therapists. 
Date: Tuesday March 8, 2016
Time: 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Location: TVCC, 779 Base Line Road E, London
Cost: Free
Register: Register Online
With the space limitations of most low tech augmentative communication systems, we want to ensure that our communicators have access to the words that will have the most impact and usage throughout the day. This workshop will demonstrate how to use Core Vocabulary, the 200 words that account for 80% of our communication, to enhance a client’s communication potential.

Partner Strategies in AAC
Date/Time: Fridays May 6, 13, 27 2016 with an additional date the week of May 20 for one-on-one coaching.  (The child / youth will attend this session). 

Time: 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. 
Location: TVCC, 779 Base Line Road, London, ON N5C 5Y6
Cost: Free
Register: Check the TVCC website for registration details, or contact your TVCC ACS clinician to reserve a spot.
This workshop is intended for parents / caregivers, and anyone who supports individuals who use a communication device. The child must have received their augmentative communication device in the last 12 months.
This 4 -week program focuses on providing strategies for parents / caregivers to help their child / youth interact and communicate using their AAC communication system in naturally occurring activities. Adults will attend three two-hour sessions and one individual coaching session with the child / youth.  You must bring the child's communication device to each session. 

Boardmaker Workshop, v. 6
Date: Thursday April 7 2016
Time: 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. or 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Location: TVCC, 779 Base Line Road E, London
Cost: Free
Register: Register Online for 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. or 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
This workshop is for parents / caregivers, therapists, educators and community partners who interact with children / youth who use communication displays created with Boardmaker v. 6. This will be a "hands-on" workshop. Computers and Boardmaker software will be provided for you to practice at the workshop. If you have a laptop with Boardmaker already installed we encourage you to bring it with you. At this workshop you will learn how to:
- customize a board / grids
- create and fill buttons
- customize symbols
- save and print boards
- import photos and images 
How to Use Symbols

Date: Wednesday April 13 2016

Time: 6:00 p.m - 8:00 p.m
Location: Thames Valley Children's Centre, 779 Base Line Road, London, ON N5C 5Y6
Cost: Free
Register: Register online
This workshop is intended for parents / caregivers, and anyone who supports children who use symbols for communication. 
Children learn how to talk by listening to and copying others. Learn how to facilitate communication by using symbols/strategies with children who are non-verbal or difficult to understand. During every-day fun activities, you will learn some key strategies and techniques. Materials will be provided for you to take home so that you can start immediately.

Communication Passports: Make and Take!
Date: Tuesday May 17 2016
Time: 9:30 a.m - 11:30 a.m
Location: Thames Valley Children's Centre, 779 Base Line Road E, London, ON N5C 5Y6
Cost: Free
Register: Register online
This workshop is for parents, caregivers and / or anyone supporting a child who uses symbols / strategies for communication, whether they are currently supported by an Augmentative Communication Service Clinician, another TVCC clinician or community therapists. 
During this 'Make and Take' workshop, you will make a Communication Passport for your child. A Communication Passport is an ‘easy to follow’ guide that includes personalized information about how an individual communicates and how best to communicate with him or her. It can also include other personal information to help new people in an environment to quickly understand your child’s needs.

PECS: Level 1 Basic Training
Training by Pyramid Educational Consultants

Date: Thursday March 17 & Friday March 18, 2016
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Location: Thames Valley Children's Centre, 779 Base Line Road E, London, ON
Cost: $400 (includes catered lunch/breaks both days, text and work book)
Register: Online at Community spaces are limited.
Parking: LHSC Visitor Lot #7 at $4.00/hr, $12 daily maximum. Visa, MC and cash are accepted.

Setting the Stage and On With the Show - Registration now open! Put a big circle around the dates for week of August 29th - September 2nd! End your summer on a high note, with Setting the Stage and On With the Show. These half day theatre camps are a collaboration between TVCC and Original Kids for children and youth who use speech generating devices. This year the $100 registration fee has been generously paid by Children's Health Foundation for each participant! Check the website for more information or talk to your ACS clinician. 

Here are a sample of some of the online learning opportunities currently available. If you have found some great online webinars, please let us know so that we can share the information with others!

Ablenet Live Webinars
Title: Technology Beyond the Classroom: Tools for Transition
Date: March 22, 2016, 02:00 pm CST - 60-minutes

Description: This webinar will focus on providing supports to transition age individuals with disabilities via mobile devices to increase independence in the areas of employment, community living and post-secondary education. Using the built-in apps available on all mobile devices, along with specific supports to increase the functionality, individuals can build a customized transition toolkit.
Cost: FREE
Presenter: Mike Marotta
Level: Beginner

Title: Choose and Learn with Your Eyes Using myGaze
Date: July 26, 2016, 11:00 am CST - 60-minutes

Description: Eye trackers are tools that measure how our eyes behave. They monitor what we look at, for how long, and where our eyes go. For many years eye-gaze technology has been used as an alternative-access method for individuals with physical disabilities. It allows a person to operate a computer or control the environment without having to drag a mouse. In this webinar we will explore the myGaze device paired with a EyeMouse Play mouse emulation software to control other software, navigate websites, access learning materials, play games, and communicate. Workshop participants will view many examples of activities created for various software applications and designed for eye-gaze users to promote participation, engagement, and inclusion. Resources and strategies will be shared with attendees. Materials for Classroom Suite will be posted to the Classroom Suite Activity Exchange.
Cost: FREE
Presenter: Fiorella Quinn
Level: Beginner

Title: Fun Activities Using Remote Controlled Devices
Date: August 04, 2016, 03:00 pm CST - 30-minutes
Description: This presentation will include suggestions for remote toys and devices that are easy to use and can be adapted for home and classroom. In addition, ideas will be reviewed on what to consider when purchasing devices using transmitters and receivers. 

Cost: FREE
Presenter: Mary Hager
Level: Beginner

Check out the online Web Classes available via Tobii DynavoxHere are a couple that you might be interested in:

There’s a Boardmaker Online Template for That!
Spend more time teaching and less time creating activities from scratch. Boardmaker Online Activity Starter Templates are the fastest way to create fun and engaging activities and boards for your students. Join us as we explore some of the “not so popular - but still so spectacular” templates. Learn how to create student sign-in sheets, stamping activities, graphic organizers, word builders and more!

What is new in Compass 2.5?
Join us to learn about the updates to software (such as scan options) and content page sets in the Compass 2.5 update.


April 22-24 in Ottawa, the Ontario Rett Syndrome Association 2016 "Rising Towards Tomorrow" conference.
Included will be a pre-conference one-day workshop on developing in- depth communication strategies with methods ranging from the use of low technology to the new speech generated eye tracking devices. The development of emergent reading and literacy skills will also be a focus. There is great interest and demand today to assist children and adults living with Rett syndrome (RTT) to communicate effectively and learn literacy and reading skills. The workshop will benefit educators, speech therapists, support staff and parents. Two of the top international speakers in this field will be presenting.
Registration deadline is March 28th - details on the website.

Are you supporting someone who uses a Minspeak system? If you are able to make a trip to Pittsburgh, this is the event for you!  The Pittsburgh AAC Language Seminar Series provides all the help you need to support language development with children and adults using Minspeak systems. These workshops are free to attend and held once per month.

Currently all sessions through June 2016 are full, so if you are interested in attending, you need to book in advance for a future session.  
  • the Pittsburgh AAC Language Seminar Series (PALSS) is held at the offices of Semantic Compaction Systems (SCS). 
  • Each PALSS event is for 2 1/2 days (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)
  • Registration is free but limited to 24 people.
  • Meals and lodging are provided!!   
  • Each PALSS event regularly includes presentations by Bruce Baker, Debbie Witkowski, Russell Cross and Tracy Kovach. 
  • Each PALSS event features a nationally recognized guest presenter.