Theme areas and abstracts

Instead of maintaining the traditional theme areas used in earlier ISAAC-Brazil events, with a focus on diagnosis, intervention with distinct professionals, the various AAC systems, as well as advances in technology, the Organizing Committee decided to group participants in this conference in Territories. The aim is to generate new approximations between theory and practice. In this way, the theme areas of the VI Brazilian Conference for Augmentative and Alternative Communication were conceived from the standpoint of territories where practices and studies in AAC are carried out, addressing current territories present in the literature, i.e.: home, school, clinic, hospital, workplace, university, courtroom and rights, sociocultural venues, crossing territories.

Many people circulate in these territories. We can probably agree that the main stakeholders – or interested parties – of AAC are the users of AAC systems themselves and their family members, although many other people are engaged in advancing this field of knowledge. For example, we can name specialists in the area of Healthcare (speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, psychologists, nursing professionals) and Education (pedagogues, special education teachers, art teachers and others), as well as university researchers and practitioners interested in the field of AAC, not to speak of computer science professionals and assistive technology designers.

In this conference the territories we are focusing on are:

Territory: Home – This residential setting is the domain of family members, caretakers and occasional visitors. This is a key territory in which AAC must be guaranteed, in order for AAC devices and resources to become understood as essential for all daily living activities. The home is also the most familiar context. It represents a major comfort zone and it plays a significant role in the constitution of the identity and subjectivity of each of us.

Territory: School – The school is a broad territory, as it comprehends all teaching levels, from early childhood education through higher learning levels. It also includes services such as Special Education and various supports for inclusive education, teaching in institutional settings and special education centers. In this territory, educational practices will be discussed, as well as the challenges faced by AAC users, their peers and teachers.

Territory: Clinic – Traditionally, the Clinic has been the incubator in which many AAC practices are originally mapped out and where intervention models in AAC are experimented. It is a special place for working with speech and language development with patients and clients. In this event, the idea of the Clinic as a Territory is understood broadly as a way to welcome individual and/or therapeutic processes, multidisciplinary initiatives in which several different professionals work together towards siimilar goals. It also considers the clinic as a place for recording results, for research and for the production of knowledge.

Territory: Hospital – This is an emergent Territory in Brazil that has achieved some degree of consolidation in developed nations. There are several innovative initiatives in our country, but for the most part, this is still a Territory that calls for trailblazers. Some specific issues concern ways for promoting communication for people who are in a vulnerable state due to hospitalization, while also incurring awareness in healthcare professionals who have little knowledge about the advantages of using resources they are unfamiliar with in order to promote a new way to listen to patients in hospital beds.

Territory: Workplace – This territory concerns the workplace, and encompasses the recognition of the possibilities for living a productive life and for self-actualization. It concerns issues such as professional training; limits and possibilities for people with complex communication needs; reflections upon the loss of financial independence in the case of acquired disabilities that significantly impact upon oral communication in adult life; the role of technology and social medias in promoting productive activities that are of interest to the community; decisions about early retirement, insurance and work benefits.

Territory: Courtroom and rights – Recognizing the right that people with disabilities have to voice their ideas, wishes and concerns opens new spaces such as courtrooms and other judicial channels in which AAC will be paramount in enabling the expression of opinions and testimonials of people with complex communication needs. Using low-tech and high-tech, mediated through professionals, family members or caretakers, AAC users can fight for their rights, testify, voice grievances, give witness, vote freely, engender new civil rights paradigms. This theme encompasses studies situated in the territory of jurisprudence and civil rights.

Territory: Sociocultural venues – There are growing initiatives in the territory of sociocultural venues that aim to engage people with complex communication needs, whether they have associated mobility concerns or not. There are a number of options; sociocultural venues include popular culture and classical arts. A breadth of social media are also relevant, such as virtual media, including blogs and chats, supported by a growing number of new apps. This Territory welcomes experience reports and discussions on writing and image use, cultural production, expression through the arts and appreciation through AAC.

Territory: University – This space is conceived of in order to group presentations concerned with professional preparation at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as community service projects where universities contribute with knowledge of AAC in order to improve schooling and healthcare. It encompasses, among other possibilities, presentations about investigations on the place of AAC in the curriculum in Education and Healthcare university courses, innovation projects in Computer Sciences and Electronic Engineering and Design, and the scientific production in Research Groups that focus on AAC.

Crossing territories – Oftentimes, territories have fuzzy borders, so people move across territories, leaving the familiar area of origin, and crossing over into new domains. This theme area opens a space for professionals encountering each other in places outside their comfort zones, in order to talk about inter-territorial practices. This idea fits not only professionals, but also AAC users who have shown their creative capacity for moving into new circles.