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Posted on August 16, 2022

Communication Matters 2022

As you may have seen, we’re attending the Communication Matters International AAC Conference at the University of Leeds, with several industry important talks taking place between 11 – 13 September. We’ll delve into the latest innovations and improvements to our AAC technology, such as advancements in eye gaze, exploring personalised voices and demonstrating how to get the most out of headtracking devices. Get the full details below and find out even more by visiting our AAC experts at our stand.

Smartbox talks

As a gold sponsor of the event, Smartbox will not only have an exhibition stand but will be presenting 3 supplier talks, where AAC providers get the opportunity to share their latest innovations, knowledge and research.

Beginner to expert – head tracker master class

Adam Waits (Head of Assessment), Graeme Innes (Assistive Technology Team Leader)– 14:45 – 15:30, Monday 12 Sept

Adam will be breaking some head tracker myths and demonstrating how to get the most from this versatile access method.

They will explore three head tracking solutions and how they can be used in Grid – Smyle Mouse, Quha Zono and HeadMouse Nano. They will also be looking at advanced control options, such as gesture control and how to use head trackers in combination with other access methods. To finish, we will share some exciting new head tracker developments launching this autumn.

My voice, my identity

Becky Martin (Clinical AAC Specialist (SLT)), Alice Smith (CEO of SpeakUnique) – 9:55 – 10:40, Tuesday 13 Sept

This year Smartbox and SpeakUnique came together to tackle the challenge of providing AAC users with a unique voice. Lack of customisation has been cited as a possible barrier to AAC adaption and social integration, so it was crucial we addressed it.

Becky and Alice will demonstrate new voice technology for synthetic voice creation and highlight the over 50 regional voices from the UK and Ireland coming to Grid.​​​​​​ For the first time, creating a personalised voice is quick, affordable, and easy to use in both Grid 3 and Grid for iPad.

The future of eye gaze experience in Grid

Jay Tuck (Assistive Technology Specialist), Trevor Mobbs (Content Team Manager), James Reichelt (UX/UI Design Lead) – 9:55 – 10:40, Tuesday 13 Sept

All about the latest developments for eye gaze users of Grid. The team will cover updates to the user experience and new features available with Lumin-i – our powerful and precise eye tracker optimised for Grid 3.

They will also report on the outcomes of recent research to better understand the barriers and frustrations of eye gaze users and outline how we tackle these issues in Grid. Additionally, they will discuss the latest ways to use eye gaze and preview the latest in accessible apps, a sneak peek of some new software, plus more about enhanced computer control features.

Smartbox content in the main conference

There are also a number of Smartboxers participating in the main conference content, presenting research on various topics which you can read more about below.

100 Voices: 12 months on – Learnings from delivering AAC into the independent care setting (poster session)

Kerry Vacara (Training and Implementation Manager)

In 2020 Smartbox and CareTech started the 100 voices project, which sought to provide 100 people in care settings with a voice. This project draws on existing frameworks to gather data grounded in clinical practice. In the session, we explore the data gathered and analyse its impact based on three key themes identified early in the project; Empowerment, Connection with Others and Participation.

We will share initial findings and discuss the implications for future collaboration between AAC providers and independent care providers. For AAC practitioners, parents or carers, this session will also highlight routes to funding and the impact the technology can have on an individual.

Core vocabulary or pragmatically organised language – which one?

Becky Martin (Clinical AAC Specialist (SLT)) – 16:10 – 16:55, Monday 12 Sept

This talk explores the latest research into core and pragmatic approaches to arranging AAC vocabularies. Core vocabulary refers to commonly used words which make up 80% of spoken language, usually single words, e.g. ‘’I’’, ‘’go’’ and ‘’want’’. Pragmatically organised vocabularies focus on the reasons for communication and usually consist of combining common phrases rather than single words, resulting in messages which may not be grammatically perfect, but can still be understood by the listener, e.g. “Can I tell you something” → “about a thing” → vehicles → “see” → “plane”.

Becky will bring her expertise as a speech and language therapist to discuss varying uses for each approach and illustrate who they may be appropriate for. She uses popular grid sets Super Core and Voco Chat, however, the content can be applied to any other core vocabulary or pragmatically organised AAC system.

IssieEd: An inclusive approach to AAC in the classroom

Dana Cappel (Occupational Therapist) – 9:00 – 9:45, Tuesday 13 Sept

IssieEd is a unique approach that combines AAC with learning and is actively employed in the Beit Issie Shapiro School for Special Education in Israel. IssieEd uses AAC software to deliver engaging educational materials to AAC users and non-AAC users alike, and facilitates lesson templates which capitalise on the unique features of AAC (speech generation, symbol support). The lesson templates can be quickly adapted to any subject, giving teachers an efficient and consistent framework which can be tailored to individual student needs.

Join Occupational Therapist Dana Cappel for this Smartbox sponsored talk as she discusses how her approach has maximised teaching efficacy and student participation in school, home and life as a whole.

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