Tuesday, 25 March 2008

ISAAC UK: The Power of Communication

If you know anyone who can't talk or write, please watch this movie.

You can view it online on Communication Matters (ISAAC UK) website:


The DVD of the movie is available from Communication Matters at the same link.

Communication Matters: http://www.communicationmatters.org.uk/
UK Chapter of ISAAC, the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

1 Voice: HMS 1 Voice

HMS 1 Voice: 1 Voice Under-13's Project
Norbrek Castle Hotel, Blackpool, November 2007

Every year, 1 Voice under 13's and their families, have a special weekend together at the Norbrek Castle hotel in Blackpool.

The children, who all use communication aids, put on a performance at the dinner disco, that they make in a day.

A team of volunteers, including older communication aid users, all help.

The theme for the November 2007 weekend was Under the Sea.

I went with Mum and Jake and Jake's Mum Dawn. It was Jake's first time.

I was a Role Model this year. I talked to the families, and helped in the video work shop.

I am busy editing footage from the weekend, to make the next 1 Voice DVD, and upload the movie to YouTube.

The movie will be called HMS 1 Voice, after the music track that the work shop leaders made for the performance, with messages from the children's communication aids.

Monday, 24 March 2008

1 Voice: Diana Award

The Diana Award Holder's Conference was at City University, London, 19th March.

Four of the teenagers from the Listen to Me DVD project were able to go and represent 1 Voice - Rosie, Pranav, Gregor and me.

Olympic Rower, Guin Batten, gave the key note speech, telling us how she was shocked not to be considered for the Olympic rowing team, after winning so many sporting events at school, county, and national level. They told her she was too small to row in the Olympics.

Guin left the country and rowed abroad. Sometimes she rowed on her own rather than in a team, to prove her skill without doubt. When she came back to England she got a place on the team for the next Olympics, and won England a silver medal.

Her message to us is that everybody should have a dream, our dreams are important, and we should never let anyone tell us that our dreams can't come true.

The rest of the day we moved around in groups to think about ideas for future award projects. We were all in different groups from each other, so we didn't get to plan our ideas together or with people from our area.

Luckily, before we left, I met a student from a school close to mine in Durham. I will write to him and his Head Teacher to ask if students from his school will help students from my school with their story writing and readings for the Many Stories, One Voice international event.

Gregor and me and our Mums went to Rosie's house for tea. Thank you Rosie and Anna. Pranav had another date. See you all in July!

It was a great day.

1 Voice: Listen to Me

1 Voice Teenagers' Project, Summer '07

Last summer, a group of teenagers from 1 Voice, including me, made a DVD called Listen to Me. Our movie is part documentary and part music track. The music track is on YouTube. You can view it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5ZlUnU8Oeo

We talk about our experiences as communication aid users, and give our top tips on how to listen to us and communicate with us.

Listen to Me has been sent to people all over the world. It won us a Diana Award.

In November, Scope invited us to the launch of their No Voice, No Choice campaign at a large reception at Westminster, where John Bercow, MP, gave a talk about his Review of speech and language therapy throughout the UK.

The politicians watched our DVD, and Nadia read them her poem, With and Without a Voice.

The Teenagers' DVD project was funded with prize money from the Guardian and a grant from Awards for All. 1 Voice won the Guardian Award for Best Children's Charity in December 2006.

You can order a copy of Listen to Me from 1 Voice.

Call 0845 3307862, or email info@1voice.info.
Visit 1 Voice website to find out more about what we do: http://www.1voice.info/

AAC: Writing: Part 2

My Pathfinder types straight into Word, the Internet, PowerPoint, Writing With Symbols, and more.

In Writing With Symbols, the icons I need to press on my overlay, to say or write the words, appear above each word as I type.

Plain text can be pasted from another programme and it is automatically symbolised with my icons in seconds.

When I store new words on my Pathfinder, the Writing With Symbols word list must be updated or no icons will appear above the new words.

Symbolised text helps me learn to build good sentences. It helps me to say and write words on my Pathfinder that I can't read or spell yet. It reminds me where new words are stored on my Pathfinder.

Symbolised text takes up around six times as much space as plain text, but I don't need pages of symbolised text for everything I say.

Sometimes I just need a crib sheet or topic page for a set of words on a given subject. I know lots of words already, and I have a symbol dictionary for where 1,100 high frequency words are stored on my Pathfinder.

But it is good to deliver a piece of work in one go without me having to look up lots of words on topic pages or in my dictionary.

Once I have prepared a piece of work, I can ask Writing With Symbols, Word, or my Pathfinder to read aloud the whole piece, a paragraph at a time, a sentence at a time, or word by word.

Word by word communication is best for talking and writing. It lets me say and write whatever I want.

Reading word by word on my Pathfinder is very slow. There are better ways to use AAC for reading. I will post on AAC and reading another day.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

AAC: Writing: Part 1

I can write from my Pathfinder, to any computer with the free programme, AAC Keys, installed.

I connect my Pathfinder to my laptop with a serial cable. The Pathfinder acts as a keyboard. I can switch between laptop and Pathfinder to type, one doesn't stop the other from working.

I could remove the icon overlay from my Pathfinder and use its QWERTY keyboard.

But it's quicker to use the icon overlay. I can spell or choose whole words from there. Spelling is really slow compared to selecting whole words.

It takes 2 hits on the overlay to say or write most words. Icon one selects a word group, like adverb, conjunction, determiner. Icon two selects a word from that group.

Any of the icons could lead to a word group, and many do. But the few hundred words that make up 85% of everyone's sentences, spoken or written, belong to just a few word groups. Some of these word groups have only 6, 10, or 20 words.

The folder labels in the graphic above describe the essential core word groups. On my Pathfinder overlay, I press icons in exactly these positions to access these same word groups.

This is how I talk and write.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Many Stories, One Voice

Many Stories, One Voice is a worldwide AAC and Literacy event organised by the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, ISAAC. It has a writing contest part and reading events part.

Here's the writing contest flyer:

I'm going to build my characters and do some of my story planning on Monday afternoons in my Art class at Bishop Auckland College.

AAC means augmentative and alternative communication, the many ways to help people who can't speak or write, things like talking boxes, computers, books and boards with pictures or letters, sign language, and my Pathfinder communication aid.

If you want to know more about Many Stories, One Voice events, or about AAC and Literacy, visit http://www.aacawareness.org/

ISAAC is celebrating its second International AAC Awareness Month in October 2008.

The theme this year is AAC and Literacy. ISAAC invites people who use AAC (of all languages, ages and skill levels) to write a short story, poem, or essay. The stories, which will feature AAC, will be placed on the Internet in one big collection. The Many Stories, all written with the One Voice of AAC, are a way to promote the importance of literacy for people who use AAC, and provide a stepping stone for sharing their thoughts and beliefs through writing. In October, people who use AAC will have their voices heard all over the world when they pick any story from the Many Stories, One Voice online collection and read it aloud in a library or other public, accessible place in their community.

Saturday, 1 March 2008

29 Days: 29 Feb: Babs' Dyson

Guess what? It works! Babs you must have meant it was a little tired, not broken. I'm delighted. Thank you!

29 Days: 29 Feb: Day 29

The workshops are over. Today is celebration day. Balloons and Banners. Hair styling and Makeovers. Creative exhibitions of our work by the artists who worked with us. KK2 Disco and Karaoke. Cap-a-Pie Theatre dance and sing-a-long. Isla St Claire. And as usual, good grub!

Mum dropped me off early for the morning part, and picked me up at lunch time, to go to Oxford for my cousin Lauren's 3rd birthday - she was 12 on 29 February. So I went to a different disco and karaoke today. It was awesome, but I wish I could have done both!

I hope everyone enjoyed it. I can't wait to see you all again, and to see the DVD.

The Person Centred Plan Team have a lot of work to in the next few weeks, or months - hundreds of photos and yards of video footage to edit, our Plans to make. Good luck with the work, and a great big thank you for a wonderful time. Thank you to all the artists.

And thank you to our hosts Cap-a-Pie. The Store at Dipton is a fantastic venue.