The 2017 ISAAC awards have been announced!
Individual award winners receive a $50 voucher, 18 months membership, and a certificate. Organisations receive an ISAAC publication, “Beneath the Surface”, and a certificate.
The Foundation award is for someone that has shown improvement in their use of AAC.
The award goes to Caitlyn Osborn.
Caitlyn is a strong-minded and insightful teenager who has made excellent progress in the last year. Caitlyn used to see her communication systems as something she could use to get what she wants. This was incredibly powerful for her but didn’t allow her to connect with others in the way that she wanted. After a great deal of determination and hard work, she now sees her device as her voice.
Caitlyn has always wanted to connect with others. However, it has taken her some time to understand and learn how to use her communication system to match her internal thoughts and how she wanted to interact with her world. She can talk more about the things she loves and why she loves them, which are her photos, videos, and toys at home. She can have a conversation, ask questions of her friends, and tell them what she thinks about their new haircut (she thought her friend’s new haircut was beautiful, by the way). She is also able to argue extensively about things she’s passionate about, such as wagging school and getting out ofclass assignments. I am also happy to say that this is not the extent of her achievements! Now that she sees her device as her voice, Caitlyn can have richer and more varied conversations and relationships with the people in her life.
After a great deal of persistence from Caitlyn and her support network, she is now able to use her voice to say all the things she has really wanted to say.
This year we are awarding a second Foundation award. It is a very special award because it’s going to two people, Garry and Chrissa Conner.
Garry and Chrissa, came to see Two Way Street for AAC intervention, for their sons. They have two teenage sons, both with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder) and with Complex Communication Needs.
AAC was an avenue the family wanted to explore, in particular Proloquo2Go on the iPad. Garry and Chrissa have shown that they are willing to not only support each of their son’s communication, but also believe in their potential to communicate. As parents, they have continued to value AAC input, taking on every suggestion, whilst implementing the approach of language modelling/receptive input with Proloquo2Go, in the home environment throughout everyday activities.
Garry and Chrissa have valued the AAC systems as the boys’ voices, by ensuring the devices are always available and they are using it themselves with each boy, as role models to their sons. Garry and Chrissa have also allowed support workers and other people involved in the boys lives to be trained in how the boys communicate.. They have invested time and money into training these additional people up, to ensure that each of the boys’ communication partners, understand how the AAC system works and how it is best used in each of their interactions.
Garry and Chrissa Connor have a very busy lifestyle, with a number of professionals and support workers involved in their lives. On some days, it has been evident that life is a bit harder for the family, compared to other days. Garry and Chrissa support each other to continue to move forward with AAC, doing what they can manage and doing so with a smile on their face. Despite challenges along the way, they have never given up on their sons’ communication systems or providing each boy with the opportunity to be heard.
Garry and Chrissa Connor are very deserving of this award – due to their willingness to initially take the plunge with AAC.
The Community award is given to someone who actively uses AAC in the community. This contributes to advancing the use and acceptance of AAC in the community. I have known this person eight years, it has been wonderful to watch her grow in confidence and become the beautiful young lady she is today. The award goes to Lisa Ho.
As an emerging leader Lisa Ho has demonstrated commitment, passion and skill as a communication access educator, advocate and assessor, in raising awareness and facilitating communication environments for inclusion of people with communication difficulties. Lisa’s competence with AAC started when as a child, she attended Big Mouth Camps, then became a role model and mentor to others in mastering and using electronic communication devices. She continues to fulfill this role today.
Lisa’s competence with her AAC device has enabled her to carry out her job as a communication access assessor to the highest level of excellence. Her ability to evaluate a business and provide clear and logical reasoning for the scores she awards has been exemplary. Through her competence with AAC, Lisa has made an impact at the individual, group and community levels.
The Information award is for work that raises awareness of AAC. It includes articles, lectures, public appearances, radio interviews or public work of art.
This award goes to Oliver Mills.
Oliver is a thoughtful and creative man. He has been able to share his perspectives on a variety of topics related to his disability through his poetry. Oliver has entered his poetry and art in several competitions and has won the following awards/acknowledgements:
- 2015 Tea Tree Gully Poetry Festival–The Ken Vincent Poetry Competition. Oliver Mills received “Commended” in the Adult Section for his poem “Light”. The poem was also published in The Tea Tree Gully Poetry Festival 2015 Selected Poems book.
- 2014 Julia Farr Association Purple Orange Perspective Art Exhibition – Oliver received the People’s Choice Award.
He has also recently published a coffee table book called ‘Poetic Moments’ to share his work. Oliver’s poems include insightful messages in relation to topics like epilepsy, vision impairment, the importance of ‘talking’, taking his turn, and his frustrations with waiting.
Oliver has also given several public lectures to share the story of his life with others. He presents information on ‘a typical day’ for him, his goals and dreams, and those aspects of his life that enable him to meet those goals. Although presenting these lectures makes him nervous, he is always proud afterwards to share his story and hopes to inspire others.
Oliver works extremely hard to dictate his lectures and to create his poetry. Despite the communication challenges that arise for him as an auditory scanner, he is determined to have his own say. He patiently utilises strategies like word lists from the internet, use of the Thesaurus and many others to ensure that the words he writes are his own. From these words, others can learn about and reflect on these topics from his perspective. Below is an example of his poem ‘Talking Is’ which I think sums up communication from his perspective as a person who uses AAC.
Talking is thought
Talking is thinking
Talking is me.
I, You, Us
Clean and New
The next two awards are school or organisation awards. This award is for a school or organization that has shown outstanding recognition and acceptance of AAC for someone who learns, works or participates there.
The first award goes to East Adelaide Primary School – as led by Mr Jessett, School support officer Pete and his year 6-7 class.
After years of struggle, with many near-misses, it seems like a miracle that a teacher, a class a school could get it SO RIGHT and to bring a whole school along on an AAC journey!
Some of you know Max Price. This award is to his teacher and class mates
The enthusiasm shown by Max’s classroom teachers to embrace Max’s AAC has spread like wildfire. There are many students at Max’s school who are now exceptionally AAC literate – partnering easily with the PODD, eye gaze device and in interpreting Max’s head taps, vocalisations and other bodily forms of communication! While much progress is still to be made there is no going back on the inroads formed. The outstanding skills & thoughtfulness of Janelle Sampson has wrapped great support around the school. what is unusual is the enthusiasm, respect and passion for AAC within this school to the point that it is being shared with others – this has come from the school and its people.
We are giving the whole class wristbands too.
The final award goes to College Row School in Bunbury, West Australia.
College Row School in Bunbury, Western Australia is radically changing the community’s perception of Augmentative and Alternative Communication. In line with their city’s target of becoming the most accessible regional city in Australia by 2020, the whole school has prioritised communication and worked tirelessly to give a voice to each and every one of their students.
College Row School is an education support school catering for students from K-12 with severe intellectual and multiple disabilities. The majority of their 33 students are non-verbal, and have dynamic and complex physical, sensory and behavioural challenges. Despite these difficulties, the teachers, assistants and families are committed to problem solving the individual learning requirements of each student, to ensure that they have access to the appropriate resources and teaching strategies they need to learn, participate and engage in the school and wider community.
PrincipalCale Begley has spear headed the whole school approach to communication systems; attending comprehensive communication training himself in 2015, and sending a number of his teachers and assistants to subsequent sessions, including detailed AAC post graduate diploma’s. Cale has since organized interstate presenters to travel to Bunbury to deliver workshops and also provide consultative support in the classroom, to ensure that every individual communication need is acknowledged and met. Every student at College Row now has their own personally selected and customized communication system that is carried everywhere with them. All staff within the school observe carefully for initiations of communication, and take the time to stop and listen to what their students have to say. They are also highly skilled in modelling the various AAC systems and expanding upon their student’s thoughts and messages. As a result of this the students are more engaged and participating more fully in the curriculum and school life, are demonstrating their learning in more intelligible ways, are calmer and displaying less challenging behaviours and have been able to connect with staff and peers in a way not previously possible.
College Row’s passion for communication is not just within the school grounds, but has extended to supporting parents from the school as well as local mainstream and special needs schools. The school has recently collaborated with a local early education centre to upskill staff on their knowledge of AAC, and to jointly run a playgroup for youngsters with complex communication needs in the hope that they will commence at College Row with their own personalised communication system already in place. There is increasing interest in AAC from after school and post-school groups, and the school is also in discussions with the City of Bunbury in regards to providing AAC training for staff from their facilities such as the local library and sports centre. College Row’s vision of creating a truly communication accessible community is quickly becoming a reality.