Since 1986 the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC) has been raising awareness of AAC through supporting service delivery initiatives, research and education platforms. Currently there is membership contribution from over 23 countries. Communication Matters is a member of ISAAC. You are ISAAC!
This plenary session will introduce you to some key people in the management of ISAAC (Professor Gregor Renner, Germany, ISAAC President; Dr Janice Murray, UK, Chair of ISAAC Council; Aldona Mysakowska, Poland, Chair-Elect of ISAAC Council; and Dorothy Fraser, BUILD representative, ISAAC). This is an unprecedented opportunity to hear more of the work of ISAAC from an international line up of presenters. The session will give you insights into the reach and impact of ISAAC, including its influence as an NGO within the United Nations, its collaborative activities including publications, training and educational events, leadership development activities for people who use AAC and support for countries and locations where AAC is an emerging phenomenon.
Gregor and Janice will provide an overview of the range of ISAAC activities and opportunities for members, whilst Aldona and Dorothy will provide a detailed example from one of the BUILD supported initiatives in Poland, as outlined here.
Poland has a history of 30 years of AAC in parts of the country but is still an ISAAC emerging AAC nation. Polish SLTs and other AAC professionals want to expand awareness and use of AAC and Assistive Technology nationally through international collaborations. Polish members of ISAAC invited Dot to provide training in education, health care and other public sectors through workshops in schools, presentations at universities and conferences, including information for local authorities and government officials to learn about AAC based on information from UK and other developed AAC nations.
Since this collaboration began in 2011, there has been a perceived change of attitudes – with AAC resources being considered for all aspects of life, not only for school curriculum. People who use AAC living in Poland have been creating materials based on examples from UK for social justice. AAC is also now in use in healthcare. Many professionals would like to develop collaborations with UK. The Polish national AAC Association ('Speaking without Words') aims to form an ISAAC Chapter and would appreciate advice from Communication Matters. Gregor, the ISAAC President, has suggested that as Poland is the leading AAC nation in Eastern and Central Europe, other emerging AAC nations could benefit from sharing the expertise that Poland has acquired through its international collaborations.