Amy Litton and Tanith Brien from ILC Tech headed over to Brisbane in May to attend the biannual AGOSCI Conference “Best in AAC Show”. The conference was an opportunity for people who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), their families and people who work in the area of AAC to come to together from around Australia and explore the best of AAC partnerships, communication practices and supports.
How do we make a cultural change and make AAC an integral part of the way we interact? Gayle Porter and Haylee Parfett challenged us to think about AAC in our schools and communities and dare to dream about what communication accessible schools could look like. We reflected on the importance of developing a shared understanding of what makes a successful, competent communicator. It is important families, educators and therapists know the why of their AAC interventions. What are we aiming for and why?
Will I take it to a party? Do I see it as my voice? Keynote Gayle Porter challenged us to think about how our interventions and use of communication devices make a difference and get real outcomes. We need to make sure that our interventions show AAC users that their device is their voice and can be used to communicate for a range of reasons – joke, comment, ask questions, make friends and have conversations. We are very excited that Gayle will be here in Perth sharing her knowledge! In November she will be presenting a 2 day workshop on PODD.
Keynote Karen Erickson joined us from North Carolina encouraging us to think about how we “cry out words”. She emphasised how literacy is a critical part of AAC and we should be thinking about literacy in AAC, not literacy and AAC. Spelling is the most powerful symbol set available to us. If you can use these 26 letters to spell, then 96% of the population could understand you. She suggested that we need to make spelling available from day 1. The same way we model language we should be modelling the use of the alphabet to communicate for real purposes.
We were privileged to be able to present two papers at this conference sharing our experiences working with schools. ‘Intensive AAC Support in Schools – “Now I feel lost without it!” and ‘Resourcing the AAC Journey Together – Becoming Part of the Classroom’. You can find our Top Tips for Implementing AAC in Schools on our website. We will be presenting these papers again at the 2015 AASE and WAESPAA Conference sharing with educators how AAC can be used and supported in the classroom.