AAC users have attendees on their feet at AGOSCI 2019

Gail is seated in front of a computer screen alongside the CEO of Control Bionics as she trials the Neuro Node. She is wearing a sensor on her right wrist.  They are both smiling at the camera. The AGOSCI Conference 2019 was held for the first time in WA and you could feel the energy and positive vibe from attendees and exhibitors as you entered the doors to the Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre.

The focus of presentations this year was on three main themes; ‘Building Connections’, ‘Changing Practice’ and ‘Building Your Practice – Hands-on Technology and Teaching Strategy Learning Forum’.

Jos, Shane and Joey are seated at the front of the conference room underneath a banner with the words "Assistive Technology Peer Mentoring" on the screen behind them. The Building Connections theme of the conference provided AT Chat with an opportunity to present our work including the development of a unique Assistive Technology Peer Mentoring Service in 2020.  AT Chat Team Member Jocelyn co-presented with two truly exceptional AT users Joey Harrall and Shane Agnew sharing how they used their AAC (Augmentative Alternative Communication) devices and the role that peer mentors played in increasing their understanding of AT. You can view their presentation ‘Building user-led connections and capacity, through Assistive Technology Mentoring and Information’ by following this link.

Kelly Savage and Joey Harrall are at the front of the conference room, behind them is a screen with a collage of images.  Kelly is standing while Joey is seated in his power wheelchair, they are both smiling at the camera. Key themes during this presentation were further fleshed out by keynote presenter Joseph Harrall; ‘I Have a Dream for Communication’. Joey is an expert AT user with a wealth of knowledge and a dream to help everyone find their voice in this fast pace world.  He shared his personal and sometimes tumultuous journey of accessing and using AAC throughout his life including starting an AAC Mentoring service.  His presentation brought attendees to their feet with many commenting how powerful it was having presenters with disability sharing their lived experience of using AAC.

The conference offered many learning opportunities for those working with individuals to support them to find their voice and connect with others.  People with disability highlighted that with the right support and AAC products this was achievable. I was drawn in by presenters who shared with passion their knowledge, experience and commitment for supporting people with disability to communicate in a way that works for them. 

It was a wonderful experience to see so many people working towards the goal of supporting people’s ability to communicate and connect with the world around them.  The drive of AAC users themselves hungry to have a device that they can confidently interact with and customise to meet their changing needs was very evident.

It was a growing experience for one new to the complex world of all things AAC and certainly piqued my interest to learn more.

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