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Communication: An AAC user’s perspective

Session 
Plenary
Personal Experience
  • Martin Pistorius
Summary

Martin Pistorius was born in South Africa and has had an unusual journey through life thus far. Following an illness which left him with a significant disability, wheelchair bound and physically unable to speak, he spent 14 years in institutions for the profoundly mentally and physically disabled. In 2001 he was assessed at the University of Pretoria's Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (CAAC) following which he learnt to communicate via computer and communication boards, became literate, made friends, and rebuilt a life worth living.

He obtained an advanced certificate in education with specialisation in learners with severe disabilities qualification from the University of Pretoria in 2005, and an Internet and web design qualification from the University of South Africa in 2006. In 2010 he obtained a usability analyst certification and began studying towards a BSc in Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire.

He has worked at the CAAC where amongst other things he was the AAC technology specialist and the webmaster. Later he worked at the Meraka Institute at the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research, working on a number of projects including the National Accessibility Portal initiative, developed and maintained websites as well as assisting with the establishment of the World Wide Web (W3C) Sothern African office.

Martin has served on numerous national and international AAC committees, has given presentations in South Africa, Israel, Canada and the United Kingdom and recently published a book on his life, 'Ghost Boy'. In 2008 he met the love of his life, Joanna and immigrated to the UK and currently runs a freelance web designer/developer business in Essex.