Program & Videos

12 November 2021

15:00 – 15:30
Conference opening

prof. Maurice Grinberg – ASSIST – Assistive Technologies Foundation
Afshan Khan – UNICEF Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia
Maria Gaydarova – Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Bulgaria
Nadya Klisurska-Zhekova – Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Bulgaria
Sophia Kalman, MD, PhD – Hungarian Bliss Foundation
prof. Juan Bornman – President of ISAAC

15:30 – 16:10
prof. Stephen von Tetzchner
Basic issues in AAC and inclusion

Inclusion may be defined as supporting individuals with disabilities to be active participants in the life of mainstream nursery schools or schools, in spite of their functional limitations. Both segregation and inclusion are based on assumptions related to educational, relational, ethical and political issues, resulting in different approaches to the organization of education and training of children with disabilities, including children in need of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Inclusive education is a condition for learning and enculturation in a broad sense. Inclusion requires reciprocal communication but is also a context for communication and language development and use, including development and use of AAC. Inclusion affects the whole range of events and activities that are the foundation of meaning making in nursery school and school. Much of the meaning making is taking place within activities of the peer culture in and out of school. Children with disabilities may need some one-to-one training but support of participation in the class and in child-managed activities and events are core elements of inclusive practices.

16:10 – 16:50
Prof. Maurice Grinberg & Evgeniya Hristova, PhD
Augmentative and Alternative Communication: The experience in Bulgaria

17:10 – 17:40
Anna Krasteva, Diana Nikolova & Biser Borisov
Inclusive education as a team effort towards child’s happiness

Anna Krasteva is 10 years old and is from Tagovishte, Bulgaria. She has been using an eye-tracking system to communicate, to study, to play games for more than 4 years. Anna is extremely intelligent and persistently uses every free moment to study. Annie is a 3rd-year student at the one of the best school at her hometown. Using eye-gaze technology she can take part in all of the activities at school. She can read, write and do her homework on the computer. The eye-tracking technology she is using allows her also to communicate with her peers, to use Scratch for programming, and also to listen to her favourite songs, stories and films, as well as to use skype, viber, and to play games.

17:40 – 18:00
prof. Anna Sarkadi
The experiences of children with complex communication needs during the pandemic

18:10 – 18:30
Evert-Jan Hoogerwerf (AAATE)
Challenges in AT Outcomes and Impact

AT and AAC interventions have many facets that require careful thinking, planning and implementation if we want these interventions to be successful. But what do we actually know about success in AT, beyond anecdotical evidence? And what are the challenges when it comes to raising outcomes and impact? The speaker will elaborate on some of the results of a European wide consultation that have been recently held, organised by AAATE and a group of experts in the framework of a global consultation promoted by the Global Alliance of Assistive Technology Organizations (GAATO).

13 November 2021

10:00 – 10:40
assoc. prof. Kristine Stadskleiv, PhD
Pragmatic skills in aided communicators in special and inclusive education

Successful communication depends upon pragmatic skills like choosing the correct words at the right time. Children develop their pragmatic skills using their language, implying that aided communicators may be at a disadvantage if they are not in an environment where their language is used. Inclusive practices therefore both supports and is supported by the development of pragmatic skills. In the Becoming an aided communicator (BAC) project, pragmatic understanding was investigated. BAC is an international multi-center study including aided communicators with age-appropriate cognitive functioning. Type of pragmatic functions used and how relevant the children’s responses were was analyzed, in relation to mode of aided communication, the child’s verbal comprehension and communicative functioning, and the educational setting of the child.

10:40 – 11:05
Aleksandra Jovic
Voice for every child – Regional approach in increasing availability and use of AT for AAC

11:05 – 11:20
Željka Car & Jasmina Pavliša
Voice for every child – initiatives and support

11:20 – 11:40
Mariya Yankova-Mladenova, PhD & Anna Dincheva
Support for the systematic introduction of assistive technologies in education and enhancing the capacity of supporting structures and services in the country

12:10 – 12:30
Mónika Tóth
Establishing AAC Network in Hungary

I will introduce the AAC-Modell Program in the framework of the MONTÁZS Project (EFOP 1.9.2.-VEKOP-16-2016-00001) called „Developping accessibility to special and public services for persons with disabilities”. The main goals were: setting up regional (6) AAC-centres in Hungary with complex services e.g. assessement of communication competency, providing trainings and support for the target group and their families, supporting professionals working with CCN persons in special and public organisations achiving these goals we had to train professionals on AAC-competencies creating special AAC-library with a wide range of equipements from low-tech to high-tech devices. In the second part of my presentation I would like to focus on the conlusions of the 4-year long period such as good practices, experiences, future plans. Beside being the coordinator I worked with CCN persons, families, professionals directly, which gave me different insight of the use of AAC.

12:40 – 13:00
Ida Brandão
ICT Resource Centres for Special Needs – Free Tools & Resources for Inclusion

13:10 – 13:30
Tomasz Grabowski
Speak without words

Modern assistive technologies in the field of AAC are my passion, they have amazing potential. Sometimes I am surprised that it is enough to skillfully combine several elements of this field to make my words become a clear, verbal message, thus I as a person become an equal discussion partner for the rest of society.

My favorite statement is: There are really many options, ways of communicating with a person who for some reason has a problem with verbal communication. If only such a person has a properly selected communication tool adapted to their individual needs and capabilities, and we have sufficient determination to try.

14:30 – 14:50
Björn Tibbling
Eye-Gaze Gaming to Motivate Learning

15:00 – 15:20
Madalina Constantin & Alina Tutu
Free resources supporting AAC and online learning in Special School St. Nicholas

Our presentation focuses on the strategies we have been using in our school for including nonverbal students in online learning, so that they are not left out during the difficult time of pandemic. In our school, nonverbal students are taught to use no–tech or low-tech communication devices (communication books, boards or cards) due to the economic situation of families and school resources. Teachers use school resources to produce the support for AAC for each child.

15:30 – 15:50
Dave Gilbert
Which Mouse Equivalent to choose?

With more than 15 mouse equivalents to choose from, Pretorian’s range is by far the broadest in the assistive technology space. But which should you choose for a particular client? Dave Gilbert discusses some of the ways in which each can be used and which are the best choices for particular conditions, particular situations and particular software, including AAC software such as Grid 3.

16:00 – 16:20
ANJELA – a movie by Vilma Kartalska
The movie is about Anjela Pencheva

Since her birth, Anjela has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a fighter at heart, full of life and curiosity about the world around her, she does not allow this to break her. Her need to communicate freely with people led her to art, where, although confined to a wheelchair, she flies. She dances, plays, writes and creates. As she leads her silent fight for the people with special needs. The stories of her relatives and colleagues, reveal her strength and her work. They take turns with animated pieces, where we hear the computer voice with which she speaks to us today, while writing with her eyes on a computer. In them, the physical freedom of the animated Anjela takes her to all the places of her dreams.

16:50 – 17:10
Beata Batorowicz, PhD
The social participation and engagement of children and youth with severe motor and communication impairments

By interacting with others, children encounter and solve problems, communicate, and learn to consider others’ perspectives. Social understanding and pragmatic reasoning are skills that begin to develop during childhood interactions while children participate in social activities such as play, act in their physical environment, interact with others, and learn how to communicate social behaviour in accordance with the expectations of society. Children, who have severe motor and communication impairments, often lack opportunities to play and interact with peers due to limitations in their speech or movement. Social interactions are often restricted because these children are unable to control their environment through physical actions or communication. While using currently available augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technologies (such as speech generating devices) can help, it is typically slow and time-consuming, especially for children and youth with severe physical disabilities. This lack of ability to communicate in real-time is particularly problematic in peer interactions. This presentation will discuss current research concerning the social participation of children with severe motor and communication impairments and emerging evidence on supportive strategies.

17:20 – 17:40
Gail Teachman, PhD
Voice as Dialogical: Lessons from critical qualitative research with youth who use AAC

How do normative understandings of ‘voice’ mediate research with persons who communicate differently? Can researchers ‘give voice’ to participants who use AAC? Qualitative research is often reliant on idealized conceptions of voice as the singular possession of an autonomous individual. This framing grants authority to some accounts while raising concerns about the authenticity of those generated with participants who use AAC. In this presentation, I discuss these issues in the context of a study about inclusion with young people who use AAC. Drawing examples from the study and subsequent application in other areas, I demonstrate the value added through conceptualizing voice as dialogical. I suggest the implications of this work for research and practice more generally, highlighting the dialogical relation that is all our communication.

17:50 – 18:30
Dr. Judy Wine
Prelude to ISAAC

AAC is a relatively new field of intervention. Isolated interest in providing tools for communication for people without speech began to pop up in different countries during the 1960s. In the 1970s this interest grew and became more widespread. There were no personal computers, no Internet, no virtual communication at that time. Knowledge was spread through presentations at conferences, professional and personal visits around the globe, and word of mouth. Two non-speech conferences were held in Toronto in 1980 and 1982. In 1983 Prof. John Eulenberg hosted a historical meeting at the Artificial Language Laboratory in East Lansing Michigan. The term Augmentative and Alternative Communication was officially adopted and ISAAC (The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication) was born. The Film Prelude to ISAAC was produced for the ISAAC Connect virtual Conference held in August, 2021, for the purpose of providing documentation regarding the beginnings of our field. This presentation will include a short introduction to this period of AAC history and the showing of the film Prelude to ISAAC.

The film could be seen here

14 November 2021

10:00 – 10:40
prof. Juan Bornman
Using AAC to testify in Court: A South African case example

Child abuse is a rampant global problem, affecting more than one billion children – half of world’s children (Hillis et al., 2016). A global review of published research showed that the prevalence of abuse (including sexual, physical and emotional abuse as well as neglect and exploitation) against children with disabilities was 21%, which is estimated to be 3-5 times higher than the abuse prevalence of peers without disabilities (Jones et al., 2012). Individuals with complex communication needs have a heightened risk. This presentation will unpack the risk factors, focussing on the perpetrators, professional persons across the criminal justice system (police and courts), persons with disability themselves as well as their families. Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) can allow these individuals to exercise their own autonomy, to make decisions and share information thereby allowing them to access justice. A number of different court-based communication methods and strategies will be described with a focus on a recent South African case study.

10:40 – 11:00
Idalie Fernandez
Using a Symbol Ecosystem to Enable Successful AAC Implementation in the Classroom, at Home, and in Therapy

11:10 – 11:30
Honzík Přikryl
Inclusion… Way to tolerance

Honzík Přikryl is a 13-year-old student in 7th grade. He has cerebral palsy which impairs his movements and speaking. However, this hasn’t stopped him from entering a public kindergarten at the age of 4 and continuing his education in elementary school. Honzík Přikryl uses an eye-tracking device and a specialized software for communication Grid 3. With the assistance of his AAC system, he can communicate with his family and friends.

12:00 – 12:20
Merav Raveh-Malka & Yedida Sterenberg
Ezer Mizion Communication Tool project for Hospitalized Patients

Ommer Communication Board – download

Instructions for use of Omer communication boards – download

12:30 – 12:50
Adi Ne’eman, PhD & Juman Najjar, PhD
Our school speaks AAC

This study evaluates an Augmentative and Alterative Communication (AAC) implementation project in a school for students with Autism and Intellectual Disabilities. Assimilation of AAC in schools is essential for providing communication opportunities among the students. This process included providing knowledge and skills to the school staff. The study examined the teachers’ attitudes, AAC-knowledge and practicable abilities. Data was collected by analyzing the outcomes of discussions and questionnaires. Teachers who participated in all modules had the highest sense of AAC competence. These teachers were also the leaders in implementing AAC. All the teachers reported high degree of satisfaction. This study provides an AAC intervention model for multi-disciplinary teams in schools. Validating the multi-dimensional intervention model is a starting point for implementing AAC in a variety of schools and within the community.

13:00 – 13:20
Nadine Farris & Ian Loughlin
Inclusive Technology: All the help you need

13:50 – 14:10
Liya Kalinnikova Magnusson, PhD
Learning Adjustment in Pandemic times

Since March 11th of 2020, the pandemic multifaceted and created unprecedented challenges in everyday life of people and societies, particularly regarding issues of age, gender, ethnicity and disability. Provision of education caused major disruption across the globe. School closures worldwide in spring 2020, identified digital technologies, digital competences, new partnership in intersectional and transnational fields approaches as a central in education for rethinking the delivering of various forms of education, supporting provision of it as a basic human right. Sweden was one of the few countries that decided to keep preschools and compulsory schools open during the pandemic, recognizing the necessity of the Lockdown just for secondary/gymnasiums and higher education institutions. Municipalities got the right to coordinate physical and remote education for pre-school and compulsory schools in accordance with local pandemic conditions. The data around the pandemic effect on the students with special educational needs (SEN) and AAC users is rather limited and fragmented. Despite fragmented character of the data, most of the statistical and thematic reports emphasize that the pandemic disproportionally and negatively affected vulnerable groups of learners, such as a high level of school absence of students with SEN, poor health conditions among them, etc. The presentation will be based on analysis national Skolverket, SPSM (Specialskolmyndigheten), etc. reports.

14:20 – 14:40
Sophia Kalman, MD, PhD
Moving from pre-pandemic to post-pandemic times: losses and possibilities

During the last eighteen months the world learnt about new ideas, like home office, E-learning, zoom conferences, quarantine obesity, mRNA vaccines, etc. From the beginning teachers and clinicians recognized that children and adolescents frequently fight fear, anxiety, and other mental health problems. The cause was the physical and social isolation, the loss of normal routines and restricted opportunities for stress release. AAC using children and adolescents also experience these problems, so it’s important that they have tools to deal with them. In the post-pandemic years inclusion might become the focus, partly because of its controversies. To follow smart technologies and robotics will become a challenge for AAC professionals, otherwise their students won’t be able to live with the new opportunities. Social justice will mean another controversial field: some will have the opportunities to use human and technical resources, some others not. Priorities of the post-pandemic efforts might not include people with disabilities and SCN. Inclusion means that we all have to share our only world, thus AAC professionals will have an important task to make sure that AAC using people and their families are not left behind while we all work for a more solidary, more sustainable post-pandemic world.

14:40 – 15:10

15:10 – 15:30
Closing of the conference