On the weekend of 28th July I was invited to teach some creative workshops to AAC users, give a poetry performance, and a presentation to their parents, at the One Voice national conference, held at Treloar School and College. One Voice is a charity that helps AAC users and their families. The annual conference brings together AAC and communication aid users, their support workers and families, to socialise and enjoy communication focused activities.
I was asked to teach two groups of AAC users, from very young to adult, to explore their technology through creative writing tasks, to which I heard some fantastic responses. We all wrote imaginative poetry, including poems spoken from the eye gazes’ point of view. There were some incredible poems and short stories, and many of the participants chose to perform theirs at the final presentation session for everyone. It was delightful to see how creative they were and hopefully my students have continued to write poetry and stories at home.
I really hope I inspired more people to use their eye gaze in a creative way, even just writing poetry for themselves, because writing poetry is a great way to learn English and encourages self-expression. I have found that creativity is the best form of communication. It has helped me so much, to develop my sense of self, and I am proof that turning a hobby into a career is possible. I would love to read more of your poetry, and you are welcome to share anything you’ve written by commenting on this blog post or on my facebook page.
During that weekend I realised that AAC and communication aid users still feel that they are left out, so I want to make a promise here and now. Over the next 5 years I will create more artistic opportunities for AAC and communication aid users as The Shouting Mute, through working as a spokesperson, and by facilitating more workshops of this kind. In exchange I want to hear from other communication aid users. I want to know who else is using their technology to be creative, how old you are, and what dreams you have for the future. Social media is great for bringing us together, and for continuing a conversation, so don’t be shy!
The weekend was great fun. I even showed the Grow up film during my presentation for the parents, and they had lots of questions for me and my team about technical and social media support. I have some great staff who would be happy to answer any further questions you may have – just get in touch. I also performed a little poetry set at the disco, and talked to some young AAC users. The whole weekend was well put together and an eye opening experience.