Top 3 Trends from ISAAC 2016
Although a heat wave was searing through Toronto last week, that didn't stop attendees and exhibitors alike from enjoying this year's ISAAC conference to the fullest. We had a blast meeting our customers, chatting with visitors, collaborating with our partners from around the globe, and getting our hands on some awesome technology.
As usual, we were inspired by brilliant presentations, thought-provoking sessions, and the amazing people we met along the way. Our curiosity was definitely piqued by the ISAAC Moose, seen with our friend Vic below, who made his rounds across the conference by being passed along from one visitor to the next. Did you spot the ISAAC Moose over the week? Let us know where you saw him in the comments below!
Vic and the ISAAC Moose spotted at the Bridges booth
It wouldn't be an ISAAC Conference without getting up close to the latest tech and learning about the trends that are shaping AAC today. We've rounded up a list of the top trends, tools, and tech that caught our eye at ISAAC 2016.
What's trending now?
1. "Smart" Mounting
BlueSky Designs has a cutting edge Mount'n Mover system in the works and we grabbed a sneak peak. Imagine a mounting system that knew how you wanted to position your device for a specific activity, and could implement that adjustment just with the click of a button... This is the concept behind the new Mount n'Mover arm, that's controlled through a mobile app.
Want to setup your mounting arm to transfer a device? Easy! Just save the adjustment settings into the mobile app and click the button when you want that adjustment implemented. The arm will respond quickly and smoothly with your exact desired adjustment.
Did you do the Ice Bucket Challenge? The R&D for the robot Mount 'n Mover was made possible by funding that came out of the Ice Bucket Challenge.
The look and feel of the Mount'n Mover arms will also be having a makeover. The arms are now made from a sleek and durable black plastic, with customizable colour accents.
While the remote controlled mounting system is still in development, the new Mount'n Mover arms should be available for sale soon. Stay tuned for updates from Bridges, or contact us for more info.
2. Eye gaze for early learning, classroom inclusion, and beyond
Walking around the exhibitor hall, you can't miss that eye gaze is a hot topic. Eye gaze cameras, eye gaze software, and eye gaze friendly mounting (Mount'n Mover has even added additional arm tilts to comfortably adjust for gaze users) are becoming more accessible every year.
Bridges has been working closely with international and local partners, and schools across Canada, to put together our EyeLearn Packages and bring eye gaze to the classroom. Our in-house eye gaze experts, Susie and Iain, gave a great presentation about eye gaze implementation for single instruction and larger groups, as well as building eye gaze skills and accessing curriculum and communication software. Attendees had the opportunity to see some real success stories from students beginning to use eye gaze in Canadian classrooms. Seen first at ISAAC 2016, Susie and Iain revealed how Bridges' EyeLearn Packages can be used to support whole class instruction with an interactive white board. Students using eye gaze can access the interactive white board and even make changes from their computer using eye gaze!
Susie and Iain before their presentation at ISAAC.
3. Symbol Support in Physical and Mental Health Care
The conference was abuzz about using symbols to aid communication in the community, including health care, justice system and mental health support.
Noted AAC gurus Sarah Blackstone and Harvey Pressman featured Widgit Health Tools, in their ISAAC presentation, Steps Toward Preparing People with Complex Communication Needs for Emergencies and Medical Encounters.
Doug Watt, from Widgit, also highlighted recent initiatives with mental health professionals and police forces in the UK.
In two different projects, Widgit teamed up with psychologists to craft symbol resources to aid communication with mental health professionals and police officers, for individuals coming into police custody.
The stat Doug quoted was that 20-30% of all offenders in the UK have learning difficulties or disabilities that interfere with their ability to cope within the criminal justice system.
That insight, and the wonderfully designed resources, resonated as we saw a steady stream of delegates from Sweden, the US, Ireland, Germany, South Africa and other nations into our shared booth looking to localize and translate these materials.
If you're interested in leading a project in Canada, contact us. We'd love to see this get going here.
To learn more about the Police Custody Symbol sheets, created in Partnership with the University of Southampton and the Hampshire Police Constabulary, CLICK HERE.
- Alanna Fontaine