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Thank you to everyone who made it to the AAC and Literacy Best Practise Study Day at Ace Centre North in Oldham on Friday.

Highlights from the day included...

1) ... a truly inspirational key note speech from Maureen Donnelly about the challenges we face when approaching literacy teaching for AAC users as well as some key ways we can combat these moving forwards.

2) ...two very thought provoking presentations from AAC users about their journeys to Literacy, some of the difficulties they faced and how they overcame them.

3)...two more presentations by teacher - One on cognitive considerations for literacy learners and the other on exam access and reasonable adjustments.

4) ...high quality, hands on table top sessions with AAC suppliers to show what products they have available which can help support literacy learning for AAC users.

We will follow up the Study Day with posts relating to the topics discussed and some of the key points which were raised throughout the day. If you have anything you would like to see on here or any resources mentioned on the day which you would like more information on, please do get in touch!

Huge thanks go out to everyone who was involved for making the day such a success!

A new working group has been set up for access to exams and testing. We are looking for people to join us. Our next meeting is on the 18th October in London. Contact to express an interest. More info below:

AAC Exam's Access Working Group

This group is examining the access to tests and exams from Key stage 1 onwards for students who rely on AAC.

Every child should have the right to demonstrate their academic ability using the most suitable access method.

AAC stands for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

AAC supplements or replaces speech or writing for communication. AAC can take the form of low-tech communication systems such as pen and paper, objects, signing and books with pictures, symbols or text.
High-tech communication systems include systems that need some sort of power to work, for example, single or multiple message devices that you can record on to as well as other devices such as computers and tablets that can convert symbols or pictures to a voice output.
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Students who rely on AAC may require independent access to tests and exams using a variety of adaptations. The adaptations required will be unique to each individual students and must reflect their normal way of working in the classroom.

This working group has started to look at how these needs should inform exam board access provision under the JCQ Access Arrangements and reasonable adjustments. The group is also considering all other national testing guidelines and the impact they have on the young person.

The aims of the group are:

1. Identify and share good practice for text and exam access across all key stages.
2. To develop a guide to good practice.
3. To engage with exam boards with a view to developing a shared agreement on appropriate access arrangements for students who rly on AAC.
4. To produce guidance for schools on developing normal ways of working that involve the easiest physical, time efficient access and developing working memory skills.
5. To produce guidance for special schools in developing programmes that may lead to access to assessment, tests and exams.
6. To look at alternative routes to gaining equivalent to national qualifications.
7. To promote good practice for access to tests and qualifications through study day seminars and conferences.
8. To provide training opportunities throughout the education system.

Produced by CandLE, Kent CAT and the Cornwall AAC team

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A distraction free way for students who rely on AAC to access phonics:

Hi! Thanks for all the great ideas and inspiration at the study day. I have just been discussing with a school- do you know of any iPad apps that allow children to play with letters and sounds to make words, but are not too distracting in terms of pictures / animations? I think I remember someone demonstrating something similar?

HELLO and WELCOME to anyone who is new to the AAC and Literacy Forum.

We hope you find the posts, resources and links shared on here useful and inspiring. There are different topic areas that we encourage people to post on which are as follows...
- Classroom practice ideas
- Inspiration / Success stories
- Supporting Literacy at home
- Suppliers updates
- Assessment and Exam Access
- Problem Solving
- Resources

For those of you who are new to google communities - once you have posted you will need to allocate your post to a particular topic area. If you feel we need more topic areas, please email us and we can add more if we feel it is appropriate. You can also search the areas by clicking on one of the topic areas on the left hand menu.

This is an open forum for people and we want everyone to feel free to share their honest opinions and experiences. A problem shared is a problem halved after all! Please ensure that you do not reveal any personal details of other people, especially of children or young people you are working with.

We do ask, however, that people are polite and considerate of each other. Posts which are deemed to be offensive or not relevant to the topics contained within the Forum will be deleted and people may be excluded from the group.

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The Communication Trust's 'Alternative Paths to Literacy' is a free resource for practitioners who support literacy skills in children and young people who use Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC).

The resource is the result of a Department for Education (DfE)
funded project investigating the effective teaching of literacy to
pupils who use AAC.

You can also access the Literature Review which was completed by Janice Murray at Manchester Metropolitan University for the background which helped inform the final resource.

Take and look and share your thoughts!
Also good to share further - especially with those who are new to working with students who use AAC.

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GREAT INSPIRATION for our AAC users...
Lee Ridley (One of the patrons of Communication Matters) did a fantastic job of impressing the judges at Britain's Got Talent. Well done Lee!!

What can be more inspiring for a Literacy lesson than a joke competition - or even a talent show?! You could even get the children to plan an interview with Lee for when he comes off stage.

Those motivating activities are at the core of encouraging our children and young people to engage with literacy. Having role models to look up to are also a great source of encouragement.

For those of you who saw Lee at the Communication Matters Conference 2017, you will be pleased to know the clip online is a bit more PG than some of his jokes were for the adult audiences!!!

Any other ideas of how you could use Lee as a starter for Literacy?
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