ISAAC Australia is excited to announce that the ISAAC international conference is coming down under for the first time ever. The conference will be held on the Gold Coast in 2018. This news was announced at the 2016 ISAAC conference in Toronto on 10th August. Watch this space for more details!
The Victorian Disability Advisory Council is looking for new members. If you are interested, please refer to the attached document. VDAC recruitment Advert
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 each week during the month of October 2015. These releases coincide with International AAC Awareness Month, celebrated every year in October. Two additional articles will be available in December 2015.
We are excited to announce the first featured article, now available online:
- 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.
Abstract: This article provides an overview of early intervention and AAC over the 30-year period since the founding of the journal Augmentative and Alternative Communication in 1985. It discusses the global context for early intervention and addresses issues pertaining to young children from birth to 6 years of age. It provides a narrative review and synthesis of the evidence base in AAC and early intervention. Finally, it provides implications for practice and future research directions.
Re-visit this page for updates throughout October!
There are a lot of things I could say about Janelle Sampson, she is just a fantastic
woman full stop.
Janelle has taken a tremendous business risk this year and has started running
workshops by people who use AA C, which is inspiring the AA C community in
South Australia in so many ways.
Mel Smith says, I had the privilege of working closely with Janelle in November
2014 on a mentor project connected with two way street and funded by Julia Farr
Foundation, it was probably the most rewarding and enjoyable weeks in my career
as an AA C user. Janelle was incredible to work with, because she was so
passionately professional about everything and everyone. She certainly made me
feel highly valued and confident in all areas of my knowledge and expertise, and this
made my week in Adelaide incredibly easy. Janelle always makes the time to listen,
to offer advice as a mentor or colleague would and never does she take over from
one’s original ideas or suggestions. Janelle is an extremely dedicated communicator,
very clear in her mind what AA C is, and very positive at all times to learn from AA C
users themselves I am extremely proud to know this woman professionally and
The Information Award. The award is given for work that raises
awareness of AA C. It includes articles, lectures, public appearances, radio interviews or
public work of art.
This award goes to Jack White, of Shelley, Western Australia.
Jack died this year, he was only ten years old but kept using his AA C strategies until the
very last days.
Jack White is a 10 year old boy who has always just wanted to live an ‘ordinary’ life,
but in doing so, has been extraordinary. Jack has mitochondrial disease and due to
this, is unable to sit, stand, walk or talk without full support and assistance. Jack has
used the PODD communication system as his main means of communicating since
he was 3 years old. Through using his PODD, Jack has been able to share his
bright mind, wit and imagination and been able to live an extraordinary-ordinary life
full of adventure, travel, pirates and superheros, a passion for the ocean and all
creatures within it, and plenty of high-jinx spy games – finding the words to call his
nasogastric tube his ‘comms’ for example.
While visiting Sculptures by the Sea at Cottesloe Beach, WA in the summer of 2013,
Jack White was inspired by a glass sculpture of a whale shark. Set against the
turquoise blue waters of the Indian Ocean, the sculpture, named ‘Transparent Sea’,
so captivated Jack that he used his (PODD) to tell his communication partner that he
wanted to write a poem about it. Using partner assisted auditory/visual scanning
with a combination of head nods, squeezey big blinks and his voice to indicate yes,
Jack navigated his PODD, writing for over an hour. He used the same AA C
strategies and system to share what inspired him to write his poem. His poem, and
inspiration, was later entered in the Sculptures by the Sea writing competition and
Jack won first prize. This excerpt from ‘Jack’s Story’ written by his mother,
Charmaine White gives further insight:
“The message in Jack’s poem is profound. Like the whale shark, Jack is
It took Jack just over an hour to write his poem, all the while, fighting off
seizures and fatigue. His poem aptly describes how he yearns to experience
the freedom and mobility to move with ease and explore his environment just
like the whale shark, as mito has robbed him of the ability to use his legs and
he is confined to a wheelchair. On his entry form Jack was asked to comment
“What inspired your writing piece and why?” he answered: “I can not speak. I
know (what it may be like for the whale shark). I’m wanting you to know.”
I’m not dead,
I feel. I love affection.
Peaceful, I can know.
I can not talk.
I can not go.
Imagine I go to my park, beach, sand.
I, you, float, whale shark.
I need to swim.
Jack’s poem, along with Jack’s Story now sits on a plaque alongside ‘The
Transparent Sea’ sculpture as a permanent exhibit at the Maritime Museum in
Fremantle, WA. Through his poetry, Jack is raising awareness of AAC. His poem
and his story stand next to ‘The Transparent Sea’ sculpture in a public space, as a
permanent visual testament to anyone with complex communication needs trying to
have a voice, trying to make their voice heard.
Last year, Jack was chosen to be the 2014 Variety Bash Ambassador . His
involvement as the 2014 Ambassador meant he travelled up to Exmouth, opened the
water park there and formally led off the bash. Jack also had his dream come true,
going out whale watching, spotting his beloved whale sharks among other ocean life.
Throughout this remarkable experience, Jack of course had access to his PODD and
was able to use it in his ‘professional’ role as Ambassador, chatting with the
‘bashers’ and tour operators alike, advancing awareness of AA C amongst a wide
range of different groups of people within his state.
Sadly, after a long battle with illness, Jack recently passed away. That Jack was able
to communicate effectively albeit with great effort using his AA C system and
strategies right up to his last few days, meant he was, at just 10 years of age, able to
grapple with the hardest conversations one can expect to have in life when facing
the reality of one’s own mortality. It was during this time when Jack was told about
this nomination for an ISAAC Award. It gave him great joy to know that his work
would be recognised in the form of an ISAAC nomination.
We will send Jack’s parents the award certificate and the gift voucher telling them
to buy a gift for themselves from Jack.
The ISAAC Australia Community Award goes to someone who actively uses AA C in
the community and actively contributes to the use of AAC in the community. This
award goes to Sue Stevens in Eltham, Victoria.
Sue is a dispensary technician at a community pharmacy in Hampton
East. Amongst her customers are a number of people with disabilities.
Sue makes an effort to communicate with customers using their
preferred methods. She has picked up a few key word signs from her
regular customers and puts these to use.
In 2014, Sue was featured in the “Good Things” video. The video
showed Sue using simple Key Word sign to communicate with a
customer. Since the video was released, Sue has had a lot of feedback
from customers and acquaintances and has developed an interest in
disability. She has gone on to study in the field.
Malkara has made a strong commitment to ensure all students at the school with
Complex Communication Needs have an appropriate Augmentative and Alternative
Communication System, that the systems are used daily and that all staff have
appropriate training in using the systems and in becoming good communication
partners. As a result, students at Malkara are daily becoming more competent
In 2012 the school executive established a trial Proloquo 2 Go Classroom to look at
implementing good quality AA C intervention and support for a trial group of students,
focusing on students who had a recommendation from a speech pathologist to use Proloquo
In 2013 the school implemented aided language displays throughout the school. All staff
were required to wear and use aided language displays. This was highly successful, with
many students learning to use symbols for a range of communicative functions and with
positive outcomes in terms of student’s receptive and expressive language and in creating a
community of more skilled communication partners. In addition, a number of students had
their own AAC systems. PODD books, followed by I Pads with Proloquo 2 Go, were the
most common systems, but low tech core vocabulary systems, PECS and other AA C apps
on iPads had also been recommended for some students. Staff received training and
practice on using and supporting these systems although the primary focus for the whole
school was on aided language displays and aided language stimulation.
In 2014, the whole school focus was on increasing aided language input. Teachers were
asked to use aided language for at least 50% of the school day and the range of aided
language displays was increased. Further work was done on helping staff to become
competent with their students’ AA C systems so that aided language could happen using the
systems appropriate for each student. A PODD working party was established to build
resources for whole school training around implementing PODD.
Overall, the school has made a significant and sustained commitment to creating a
community that supports and uses AAC daily. The whole school community has recognised
the importance of ensuring all their students with complex communication have a “voice” and
have worked hard to ensure that this has happened in an appropriate and sustainable way.
As a result, all staff have become much more effective communication partners and the
students attending the school are becoming much more competent communicators.
And we wish all schools could be like Malkara.
The winners of this year’s ISAAC Australia awards were announced at the AGOSCI conference on 14th May. Congratulations to all winners!
School/organisation awards: Malkara Specialist School (ACT)
Information Award: Jack White (WA)
- Sue Stephens (Vic)
- Eli Dickenson (WA)
- Janelle Sampson (SA)
Watch the next few blog posts for more information about the winners.
Dear friends of Opening Doors,
I am thrilled to report that applications for the 2015 Opening Doors Program are now open! This year we will be celebrating 7 years of Opening Doors making a real difference in local communities. Please forward this e-mail on through your networks – we would be delighted to hear from anyone who is interested in applying for our 2015 Program. Applications will close in early May, with the program to commence on May 18t
Would you like to become more involved in your community?
Do you want to meet like-minded people who are passionate about making a difference?
Are you passionate about a particular issue, such as mental health, disability or positive aging?
Are you willing to take the lead in making your community more inclusive?
The Opening Doors Program is currently seeking community members from Monash, Boroondara, Whitehorse and Manningham who are passionate about their local area, and would like to make a difference in the lives of people who may be socially isolated.
The 2015 Program will run for 6 months with a graduation ceremony to be held in December. Over the course of the program, you will meet and work with a passionate group of like-minded people, learn about your own talents as a community member and leader, and develop the skills to make a real and lasting difference in your local community.
The program is provided FREE to community members in the Inner-East of Melbourne.It is open to people of all ages, cultures, backgrounds and abilities.
Places in the 2015 Program are limited, so if you would like to apply, find out more, or know someone who may be interested, please don’t hesitate to contact Project Officer, Alex Mills on 8822 8489 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are always happy to discuss ways we can support you to get involved, or answer any questions you might have!
Alex Mills | Project Officer
Opening Doors – A Community Leadership Program For Social Inclusion
Phone: 8822 8489 E-Mail: email@example.com
Martin Pistorius – a high profile member of the AAC community in South Africa and the UK will be featured on 60 Minutes Australia this Sunday evening. Martin, who is a survivor of locked-in syndrome, is the author of Ghost Boy (with Megan Lloyd Davies). 60 Minutes airs on 8:00pm Sunday 22nd March. According to the 60 Minutes Facebook page, Martin’s story will screen at 8:30. https://www.facebook.com/60Minutes9?__fns&hash=Ac3pHxrAedmblyby