Thursday, 29 October 2009

Michael Reed - Big Challenge Winner!

Our project is one of 15 winners fro 150 entries!

We've been awarded £4000 for project costs, help to involve around sixteen young volunteers, plus mentoring, training and support from UnLtd, who organise and fund Big Challenge with money from the Lottery.

Thank you all for your votes and supporting comments!

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Big Challenge: I Need Your Vote!!!

To give everyone with a speech disability a way to SAY the same words speaking people say most each day. We are putting high frequency words on PowerPoint slides, with the sound added for each word, to give away and use in fun activities that research how useful and essential these words are. We want to make stories, movies and animations that foster language and literacy acquisition using these words, and reveal the plight of living without them. We want to do presentations, have permanently available virtual demonstrations online, and a website for free downloads and information sharing.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

24 Hour AAC Read-a-Thon 21 October

Join us on Skype and Facebook 5:00 am 21 October to 5:00 am 22 October to celebrate International AAC Month. Become a fan of International AAC Month on Facebook to talk to us there, or click the link above to join the Skype. If the link doesn't work with your version of Skype send your Skype contact details to

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Out of the Box wins award in ATIA Contest

I entered some movies in the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA) video contest on YouTube and Out of the Box won the International Contribution category!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

AAC Keys: Writing from Pathfinder to Computer

This is how I write with my Pathfinder communication aid connected to a computer with a serial cable. At the end of my demonstration it takes me a few goes to find a message that was stored 3 years ago, something that is important to me. I left my special school in July 2009. I was there for 12 years. 12 years of not talking to my friends. My teachers never learned how to help me.

FaCE Group Interview

Saturday, 29 August 2009

29 Aug: Piggy's AAC Phone

Making a movie of a PowerPoint story using sound files made with text to speech software. I have some movies of how to do it on YouTube. Look for my Tutorials Playlist.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

AAC: Saving Time in the Classroom: Part 1

We have put Bruce Baker's excellent lecture about core vocabulary on YouTube. It is in 6 parts. My YouTube username is michaelbrianreed if you want to see all the movies I've uploaded. Here's Part 1 of Bruce:

Sunday, 19 July 2009

AAC Keys: Writing from Pathfinder to Computer

This is how I wrote my 1 Voice Teenagers 'Moving On Up' story.

My Pathfinder writes to any computer that has AAC Keys installed.

I connect my (old) Pathfinder to a laptop with a serial cable. Newer communication aids have USB and bluetooth. I'm buying a USB to Serial converter from eBay so I can write to our Mac PowerBook.

AAC Keys is a keyboard and mouse emulator offered as a free download from the AAC Institute:

Monday, 6 July 2009

3 - 5 July: Headlines Activity Weekend

Had a great time wall climbing, bridge building, rafting, and having fun in the pool and around the campfire. Headlines Teenagers' activity weekend was at the Pioneer Centre, Kidderminster. On Sunday I interviewed some friends about the weekend and about their talents for Shine Week, a UK national festival of young peoples' talents.

Here's my first wall climb:

Headlines supports children and young people with craniofacial conditions including Apert, Crouzon, Muenke, Pfeiffer and Saethre-Chotzen Syndromes. I have Apert Syndrome.

You can watch our rafting, rope bridge and campfire movies on YouTube. Search my username: michaelbrianreed

24 June: Engage TV: Out of the Box

Out of the Box is a three minute documentary made about me for the Community Channel. It premiered at the Baltic theatre, Newcastle 24 June 2009. Engage TV filmed me in different places and I recorded the voiceover on my Pathfinder communication aid.

24 June: Radiowaves and Diana Award Campaigns

Kate from Radiowaves interviewed me about the campaigns I am using Radiowaves to promote. I've made a movie of me reading out my AAC Campaign Questions. Here they are on YouTube:

23 June: Radiowaves Shine '09 Filming

Kate and Tim from Radiowaves came to film our group FaCE at Chilton Community College. They are filming one Shine reporter from each region. FaCE stands for Facilitating Communication Everywhere. We do Art & Multimedia projects about language and AAC.

Here is me interviewing Andrew about his talent for Shine Week:

19-21 June: 1 Voice Teenage Project: Moving On Up

1 Voice Teenage Project 'Moving On Up' was at the Hayes Conference Centre, Derby 19-21 June.

We were given an outline of the workshops so we could programme our communication aids before the weekend with introductions, special interests, who we like talking to, who our role models are, and the different ways role models can tell people about AAC.

We talked about reasons for using communication aids with different people in different places, and made a collage with photos we brought with us and some we took on the day.

I interviewed the speech therapy students to find out what they had learnt about about AAC after volunteering on a 1 Voice weekend.

On Sunday we gave talks and practiced the presentations we will be giving at the Communication Matters conference in September. Nadia tells us the history of 1 Voice:

Watch more 1 Voice movies on YouTube. Our YouTube username is 1voicemovies.

1 Voice is a group of children and young people who use communication aids and their families, friends, role models and volunteers.

Some of us have been coming to 1 Voice events for 10 years now and we graduated as AAC Role Models at the weekend.

16 June: DADLG Quad Bikes BBQ

Better than ever this year!

Sunday, 31 May 2009

31 May 09: Samuel Sennott's Web

Today Sam posted a link to Caroline Musselwhite's videos on YouTube. I met Caroline, and Sam, at the ISAAC Conference in Montreal last August, and I was at Caroline's Literacy Study Day in Dunfermline 11 May.

If only our teachers and speech therapists would learn from AAC specialists like Caroline!

Sam's site:
Movies from Caroline on YouTube:

AAC Awareness 2009: Many Methods, One Goal: To Communicate

ISAAC is celebrating its third International AAC Awareness Month in October 2009.

This year's theme is Many Methods, One Goal: To Communicate.

People from all over the world who use alternative communication will be sharing photos, videos, slideshows and stories to show us the different methods they use.

The closing date is 15 September if you would like to send something in.

For more info visit

Email with any questions.

Submit your work to

ISAAC - International Society for Augmentative & Alternative Communication

Sunday, 17 May 2009

7-10 May: Silence is the Loudest Voice

'Silence is the Loudest Voice' - AAC Photographic Exhibition by Dawn Davies, Discovery Centre, Bishop Auckland.

Dawn invited us to share her space at the exhibition. We took along our stories and artwork from 'Many Stories, One Voice', our Word Wall, communication book, PowerPoint voice output communication aid, and some DVDs from 1 Voice and Communication Matters.

Dawn's project was to meet families around County Durham who have children with communication impairments. Her aim was to find out how many of the chidlren have a communication aid, and if local professionals (teachers, speech therapists, doctors) were telling the families about AAC.

They are not, but they should be, and we hope Dawn's project and our AAC work will raise awareness of what is available and that these children do have a right to a voice.

1-3 May: Headlines Weekend

A great time together with friends I only see once a year, altho last year we met up again in July for climbing, caving and abseiling, and we're doing it again this July - looking forward. Always enjoy the Holiday Inn. It's good for a swim and TenPin bowling and LaserQuest nearby.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

1 Voice Movies on YouTube

Uploaded so far 3 clips from Listen to Me, the DVD we made on the 1 Voice Teenage Project July 2007. Here's the link:

A Yippeee moment!

In March 2008 I posted about how I word process by connecting my Pathfinder to my laptop with a serial cable and sending whole words.

My laptop broke in May and the software that makes it work is not compatible with our Vista or Mac computers. Wish I'd bought an XP laptop instead, but I counted on the LA replacing the broken one. They did, in October, but they disabled so many features I can't print, go on Internet, save the memory from my Pathfinder in case it breaks, word process from my Pathfinder, or save a data log from it, and they've disabled the speech output in Writing With Symbols and made it so I can't save a Grid or even any changes to my wordlist.

Are they trying to gag me?

Anyway, while we decide which machine to buy next, Durham Clayport library has loaned me an XP machine and I'm back online!

I have to much to write about to s-p-e-l-l--- i-t---a-l-l---o-u-t---l-e-t-t-e-r---b-y---l-e-t-t-e-r

Friday, 13 March 2009

Janitor Rap

This animation was made for me in 2004/05 but we didn't release it then because one of the last lines says "I could have been more than a Janitor, if they'd taught me More Core" and we wanted everyone to know what we mean by 'Core' first.

'Core Words' or 'High Frequency Words' are a set of around 400 common words that everybody says every day. They include the National Literacy Strategy Words.

Imagine you can't talk but you have a communication aid with all these words on it, stored under keyboard shortcuts, but no one at school teaches you the shortcuts or how to read and write. You can't talk to your friends much and your chances of doing something interesting at college aren't very good.

Well that's what happened to me.

I am campaigning for people with communication disabilities to be given a way to say these words, and to be taught how to read and write them. The Princess Diana Award and Radiowaves are helping me make my campaign go national this summer.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

17 Feb: LD Parliament: UNCRPD

The UK Government has not yet ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, UNCRPD, and we have just had a letter from ALLFIE, the Alliance for Inclusive Education, telling us that the Government is trying to opt out of Article 24, on equal education.

I read ALLFIE's letters to the North East Learning Disability Service User Parliament at today's meeting (17 February 2009) and members signed the petition to Gordon Brown.

I have written more about it and put three movie clips on the Diana Award Channel here:

December, January, February

I ended up doing 3 movie projects with Engage TV, the ones at Percy Hedley and with the LD Parliament, and a 3-minute documentary about me.

December we had discos and pantos, meals out, quad biking, Xmas...

January I did a project with the Diana Award and Radiowaves. I learned how to podcast and do interviews and how to campaign. I was given the choice of joining one of the Diana campaigns like anti-bullying or knife crime, or doing a campaign of my own.

I am campaigning for people with communication disabilities to be given a way to say and write the same words that speaking people say every day. We have the technology and the knowledge to make this happen, so why isn't it?

Here's a link to my pages on the Diana Radio Channel: