I received this interesting bit of email yesterday. I have no illusions that I received this invitation because of anything resembling personal recommendations. Someone simply did a web search on AAC-related keywords and my name came up. If this was 2004, I’d be marshalling my remaining financing resources to either attend personally or send my Chinese volunteers. Of course, I no longer have those resources. Besides, even I were to flog the few financial supporters I still have, I couldn’t guarantee them that the trip would pay off. That’s just the murky nature of the AAC field.
Yet, the brochure referred to in the email has its interesting points. Therapy One is apparently a startup in Phoenix that desires to serve the whole Southwest. Good luck there. What’s interesting in their workshop brochure is the blurb on Ms Fonner’s presentation. Its wording and tone suggest that developing AAC that is really accepted by disabled clients and used is quite frustrating. The presentation description also indicates that she advocates solutions that integrate well into the actual routines and life-styles of the clients. Seems to me that she’s chanting the same mantra I’ve chanted for years. Anyone who’s a regular reader of my blog knows that is the history of my AAC, Xpress It. Any software developer will attest that no program, no matter how well designed and written, can be the best in every category. That’s why I wrote Xpress It, because my managers at Shell Oil found no existing AAC products good enough to let me talk to any of our internal customers while using the same computer for other business tasks. Single-function devices are simply not cost-effective. Xpress It is intentionally focused solely on AAC functions, allowing Windows or other third-party answers to better address any other special needs. This is the sort of best-of-breed approach that will be required to create solutions flexible enough to enable people with disabilities to be a productive segment of society. Sadly though, the speech pathologists I’ve talked to perceive precious little interest within the Disabled community. Something tells me that this could be the subject of a long and complicated discussion of disability and society.
Since I know Phoenix is out of the question, I’m sending copies of this blog entry to Kelly Fonner and Therapy One. Perhaps they will see something here that piques their interest. The rest of my blog is available here. Between the recent entries and archives, there is a lot of information on both me and Xpress It. Of course the official Xpress It web page has further info as well as a link to download and try Xpress It for free. While still a work in progress, Xpress It has served me well for nine years. If Ms Fonner or Therapy One see something with potential, they know how to reach me.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2006 1:41 PM
Subject: AAC in the Desert 2006
AAC in the Desert 2006
March 31-April 1, 2006
Come and enjoy sunny Phoenix, Arizona and get professional CEUs at this two-day workshop. Dr. Caroline Ramsey Musselwhite and Kelly Fonner will present valuable ideas and strategies for using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) in homes, clinics, and schools. This workshop is for parents, school teams, therapists, and others working with children who use light-tech and high-tech AAC. There will be a lot of door prizes and freebies! Registration includes lunch both days. Seats are limited! Call 480-668-1917 or check our website for registration information: