The theme of the VI Brazilian Conference for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, promoted by the ISAAC-Brasil (International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication) is “Augmentative and Alternative Communication: Occupying Territories”.
The symbol for this Conference is the flamboyant tree, that came from Madagascar on the east coast of Africa, and the islands of the Indian Ocean. The name indicates flaming because of the orange hue of the flowers. This tree lines several of the main avenues of the University of Campinas – Unicamp – that is the second time venue for the conference. The host is the Centro de Estudos e Pesquisas em Reabilitação Gabriel O. S. Porto (CEPRE) at the Faculdade de Ciências Médicas. Like the flamboyant, AAC – that began in the 1970s in Brazil – has spread across the country, creating roots and establishing ramifications in various territories, such as home, schools, clinics and specialized institutions, workplace, hospitals, universities, sociocultural territories and even courtrooms.
AAC encompasses communication resources that enable people with various degrees and types of language issues, be they spoken, written, gestural, verbal or nonverbal, occurring at any time during the life span, to regain their voice. These resources and strategies are as helpful to young children acquiring language, or who are learning to read and write as they are to adults who have suffered accidents or acquired diseases that affect their communication. AAC is an interdisciplinary field, and it can be found in educational, clinical and hospital settings, bringing together professionals from diverse fields of knowledge, such as Health, Education, Art and Exact Sciences.
By keeping abreast of the advances and scientific and technological tendencies of the field, our aim in the VI ISAAC BR Conference is to value and articulate scientific and local knowledge, as both are understood to be equally important, which has been expressed through the choice of spokespersons as well as the format for grouping panels according to territories. Historically, both experiences have been present and seen as essential for constructing Augmentative and Alternative Communication as a national scene.
The presence of AAC users has been a unique characteristic of the national and international ISAAC meetings, where they have participated as panel members. Furthermore, the idea was to invite national and international speakers with innovative and diverse experiences to share, that might have application for our national reality, where advanced technology should not necessarily cost so much it becomes unviable.
The three international keynote speakers are significant practitioners in the field of AAC. Dan Phillips currently supervises the introduction of high tech equipment in rural areas of South Africa Rachel Santiago works with AAC at the Boston's Children's Hospital, and Tracy Shepherd works in the field of international cooperation in ISAAC, and she will be hosting the nest international ISAAC Conference in Toronto in 2016.
All are welcome, whether the idea is to begin to understand what AAC is about or to share ideas with people from other places or to learn about the advances in the field of information technology and assistive technology.