July saw six health professionals from the Independent Living Centre WA (ILC) travel to the Gold Coast to attend the Australian Assistive Technology Conference (AATC), hosted jointly by ARATA and Occupational Therapy Australia.
With a conference theme of “Collaborate, Empower, Transform” ILC attendees took the opportunity to learn from and share their knowledge with colleagues from around Australia.
ILC Speech Pathologist Amy Litton presented two papers at AATC – “Empowering Schools to Transform Communication in Their Classrooms” and “A Collaborative Classroom Approach for Transforming Communication”.
The two presentations shared the work of the ILC speech pathology team who have been promoting and supporting augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in schools over the past four years as part of two projects funded through Non-Government Centre Support for Non-School Organisations (NGCS).
Ms Litton said the projects involved utilizing AAC devices which allowed students to use words that they can’t say because of their disability.
“We used everyday iPads with AAC apps and dedicated communication devices that enabled students to communicate in ways they ordinarily wouldn’t have been able to because of their disability,” said Ms Litton.
“Through utilizing technology, we saw kids get results and communicate in ways they, their families and teachers never thought they could” she said.
Ms Litton said the successful results from the project have meant schools are now fundamentally changing how they work with non-verbal children.
“They’re promoting augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) throughout their school and now have many different ways for children to communicate” said Ms Litton.
The presentations promoted discussion about how therapists can better collaborate with schools to ensure that all students can learn, participate and have a voice.