1998 Conference Proceedings

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ISAAC: An Update on International Activities in Augmentative and Alternative Communication

The ISAAC Executive Committee
Luis Azevedo (VP Without Portfolio);
Sarah Blackstone (President),
Prue Fuller (President-Elect);
Mary Ann Glicksman (VP Administration);
Britta Nilsson (VP Without Portfolio);
Michael Williams (VP Without Portfolio/Consumer Leadership Chair)

The International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication, whose members are widely dispersed in more than 50 countries, grew by five percent in 1997. ISAAC has eleven regional/national chapter in Canada, Denmark, Finland, German Speaking Countries, Ireland, Israel. The Netherlands-Flanders, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and the USA. It has more than 2300 members in more than 50 countries. Special congratulations to the chapters and countries who answered the challenge to increase their memberships by ten percent or more in 1997: ISAAC-GSC (62%); ISAAC-Ireland (32%); ISAAC-Norway (26%); Columbia (800%); Chile (225%); Portugal (150%); Italy (23%); Japan (20%); Belgium (13%). With ISAAC’s new administrative structure in place, we accomplished a great deal this year. For starters, ISAAC met its Board of Directors top two priorities:

  1. AAC consumer on the executive committee (EC). Michael B. Williams, ISAAC Board Member and well-known disability advocate, began serving on the EC in 1998 as VP without portfolio. Sentient Systems Technology is funding the ISAAC Consumer Leadership Chair, which Michael occupies. ISAAC will truly benefit from Mr. Williams’ appointment and his perspectives at the highest levels of the Society. His role will include encouraging consumers around the world to take an active role in the organization and AAC advocacy movement.
  2. ISAAC website (www.ISAAC-online.org). Thanks to the work of the Assistive Technology Resource Centre (ATRC) at the University of Toronto and to the support from Prentke Romich Company and Semantic Compaction, ISAAC has a highly regarded, interactive, accessible Website. This is important for an organization whose members come from across the world. We hope the site will prove a resource to all stakeholders in the area of AAC.

ISAAC introduced its new logo, redesigned the covers of the journal, AAC, and the membership directory. We are publishing the ISAAC Bulletin with an attractive new design, as well. In 1997, the organization also produced a new membership brochure, fund raising materials and the 1995-96 Biennial Report. With a new look, ISAAC has embarked on an aggressive fund raising campaign. Nancy Christie, the Executive Director of ISAAC in consultation with the executive committee and Board of Directors is developing proposals and submitting them to foundations, individuals, companies and other potential funding sources. Two documents are available that explain ISAAC’s approach to fundraising: History, Philosophy and Principals of ISAAC fund raising and Ideas for Fundraising.

ISAAC dramatically improved the efficiency of the Secretariat in 1997 by hiring an executive director and administrative assistant. We have organizational procedures in place, a new payroll system and are developing a program oriented budget and means to track the financial status of the organization more efficiently. We are working hard to improve membership services and to expand and extend the mission of ISAAC across the world.

To increase membership in ISAAC, we have asked countries and chapters to raise their numbers by ten percent in 1997 or 1998 (or both). Those who are successful in either year, will receive and award and special recognition during the membership meeting at the 1998 Biennial Conference in Dublin.

Every two years, ISAAC has an international conference. In 1998, the ISAAC Biennial Conference venue is Dublin, Ireland. This conference, with its theme, “Putting the Pieces Together,” promises the lure and magic of ISAAC, against the backdrop of a historic city in a beautiful land. We are challenged by accessibility issues and have strategies to meet the needs of all consumers who attend. ISAAC Biennial conferences are important. They serve as the mortar that holds various stakeholders together in support of our mission. In the year 2000, the theme of the conference, which will be hosted by USSAAC and held in the Washington, D.C. area, will be to bring at least two AAC consumers from all 50 U.S. states, Canadian provinces, and other countries outside North America to celebrate a new millenium for people who use AAC.

ISAAC publications not only got a facelift in 1997, they also (and more importantly) continued to improve in quality and content. Many thanks to our talented editors. We bid special farewells to Dr. David Beukelman, editor of the AAC Journal, and Jeff Poss, editor of the ISAAC Membership Directory, who retired this year. We welcome Dr. Pat Mirenda, who is our new editor of the AAC Journal. Dr. Mirenda said, “I think the role of the journal should be three-fold: (1) to disseminate the ongoing contributions fo established AAC scholars and practitioners from around the world; (12) to encourage and nurture the publication efforts of the second generation as they tackle the many unanswered research and clinical questions in the field, and (3) to continue to provide a rich resource of information about AAC for the third generation of authors- and scholars-to-be.” She plans to recruit high-quality articles with a clinical focus from authors who have expertise in areas such as literacy, working with families, creating opportunities for communication and supporting adults with developmental disabilities who are nonsymbolic communicators. Finally, we are grateful to Dr. Joan Bruno, editor of the ISAAC Bulletin, who remains with us through 1998. The results of a member survey show high ratings for this publication, which has not always been the case.

We will offer a CD-Rom of all back issues of the AAC Journal in 1998. Also, the first ISAAC Press Book is ready for final editing and publication. Getting Started in AAC (working title), with Anne Warrick (Editor) and her co-authors from around the world has useful information presented in an engaging multicultural format to help people get started using AAC techniques with limited resources. Told against a backdrop of the realities in emerging AAC areas, this book gives the reader an “I can do it” attitude. We are looking for funding to publish the book in such a way that we are able to give it to people in developing AAC areas. This book is important to ISAAC’s mission.

The search is on for the editor(s) of the ISAAC consumer book, As Told By Us. This book will highlight the creative expressions of augmented communicators.

In 1997, ISAAC increased our corporate sponsor memberships. These assistive technology, educational, technology companies make a major difference to ISAAC. We are truly grateful for their support and are working to strengthen these important partnerships. Their contributions, especially through our awards program represents a commitment that advances access to AAC for persons around the world. For example, Words+, Inc. funds a consumer lectureship award at each Biennial Conference and a scholarship for consumers. Prentke Romich funds an award for outstanding scholars published in the AAC Journal and for scholarships for study.

In 1997, we announced a new award, the Bridge School/ISAAC award. The first recipient will be announced in August at the 1998 Biennial Conference in Dublin. This individual will come to the U.S. for a year to serve in an internship position at the Bridge School, a school for children who use AAC located on a regular education campus in California.

The ACE Center in England developed a wonderful videotape for ISAAC. It captures the essence of WHY AAC devices make a difference in the everyday lives of people who use them. Available in both PAC and VHS formats, you can contact the ISAAC Secretariat for more information about any of the activities of ISAAC.


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