ISAAC 2023 connections made with links across the world supporting AAC
In this month's news Charlie Danger as a director of Global Symbols, attended the 19th Biennial Conference of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) conference in Cancun. Many comments about the conference have been shared via Facebook and we have also shared some of Charlie's posts on our Facebook page. However, with time meeting colleagues Charlie managed to discuss ideas about symbol adaptations alongside language and cultural differences that have become so much part of AAC beyond borders.
First and foremost in discussion with Tracy Shepherd, ISAAC president, about the work of Global Symbols, Charlie discovered her keeness for collaboration and adding our details to the ISAAC website which is very exciting. Tracey has recently been teaching AAC at Addis Ababa University to the inaugural class of Speech Therapists in the country and it would be wonderful to be able to connect up with ideas for symbol support. Yonit Hagoel-Karnieli who is the president elect of ISAAC and is director of the National AAC Center in Israel has also confirmed her support to continue the collaboration between ISAAC and Global Symbols
When thinking about symbol design and adaptations Charlie met Professor Ralph Schlosser who has written about animation of graphical symbols as a way of helping understanding of actions which we have found particularly difficult to make easy with static symbols that might have several different meanings in various languages! It has been found that animation "demands a learner's attention and/or makes movement explicit" and recently Professor Schlosser has published a scoping review of the subject.
Angela Moorad from OMazing Kids AAC Consulting has provided links to apps that allow for annimation in her blog and includes several that work with differnt languages. 'Sign Language Symbols, Videos & GIFs in AAC Apps'. Angela mentions the AVAZ app and Charlie met Narayanan Ramakrishanan, CEO of Avaz, who is in the process of connecting his app to our API that allows users to access the symbols stored on our website. Avaz is reportedly the most widely used AAC app in Asia.
Dr Kathy Drager, another influential researcher and Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, has recently been undertaking some work in Sri Lanka with colleagues and they presented on "A Model for Global Collaborations and Partnerships in AAC to Address Capacity in Low- and Middle-Income Countries" using Costello and Zumla's Partnership model (2000) with a collaborative approach that would work well with our UNICEF ECARO and colleagues ideas for Implementing AAC in Eastern Europe.
There were many more colleagues that Charlie met including friends from UK and it was so good to hear all the latest news and be able to see all the presentations being made available by ISAAC. As a last mention it was Ngwanamashiana Mothapo (known as Rahab Blondie), who as a PhD candidate discussed her work with Kerstin M. Tönsing at the Centre for AAC, University of Pretoria and Gloria Soto in USA that led to may ideas for working together. Rahab presented slides on the "Development of a Sepedi non-electronic AAC system for use with preliterate children". She highlighted the unmet need for localised symbols and vocabularies and has now achieved so much more in this area whilst working at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University based on the outskirts of Pretoria in South Africs and it is hoped that we can collaborate to support these needs.
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