Communication Matters returns to Leeds for 12th time for annual conference

This year's Communication Matters conference will be held at the University of Leeds - credit Carl Milner Photography for LCC

The annual International Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) conference held by the charity Communication Matters will be returning to Leeds next month, to provide a pivotal hub for knowledge exchange of communication solutions to support those with little or no speech.

This year’s meeting will be taking place at The University of Leeds from 10th – 12th September and will cover topics on augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). The event will feature a specialised supplier exhibition in Parkinson Court, which is housed in the university’s iconic Parkinson Building and centre on practical solutions, personal experiences, latest research, and clinical and technological developments in the field of AAC.

Speakers at the conference next month include Professor Graham Pullin, Researcher at University of Dundee and Abdi Omar, Motivational Speaker & AAC User. Graham brings his expertise as a Co-Investigator on the Wellcome Trust project ‘Imagining Technologies for Disability Futures’, which explores alternative everyday futures for AAC.

Whilst Graham shares knowledge from the scientific community, Abdi’s personal experiences has fuelled his passion to motivate and inspire all types of people and start his own business. Abdi has cerebral palsy and uses a communication aid which he controls with his head. His work as a filmmaker and Youtuber has quickly gained traction and his 3.5k subscribers regularly tune in to hear his motivational speeches and through his company, Abdi Enterprises, he is a trainer for AAC users and educator for disabled students and staff to help change the world’s perception of disability.

According to Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT), up to 14 million people in the UK, which is 20% of the population, will experience communication difficulty at some point in their lives. Communication Matters, along with other organisations such as Stroke Association and MND Associate, have partnered with RCSLT to create an initiative, Communication Access UK, which offers free training to businesses and organisations to better support people with communication difficulties.

Staff from the University of Leeds including people from the catering, kitchen, accommodation, conference and events teams that have completed the Communication Access UK course and is one of the factors that draws the organisers at Communication Matters to host their annual event in Leeds.

Helen Whittle, Chair at Communication Matters said: “We’re really looking forward to holding our annual conference next month. As a leading AAC event, delegates will be able to use this event as a platform to exchange knowledge, share ideas and explore how to better support those with communication needs.

“Communication Matters exists to support people who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication in their basic human right to communicate, be included and heard in an equitable society. Our conference is integral to helping us increase awareness about AAC, improve service standards and empower AAC users.”

Claire Heap, Head of Conference Leeds, commented: “We’re delighted to see the return of the Communication Matters conference in Leeds next month. We’re proud that our team has completed the Communication Access programme and we strongly believe that everyone should receive the same conferencing experience. By completing this training, we understand the importance of offering equal access and opportunity to those with disabilities and this conference is integral to increasing the support for people with communication difficulties.”

Conference Leeds, the conferencing bureau for the city of Leeds, offers a free and impartial service to assist delegates in experiencing the exceptional. To explore your options ahead of your next conference, visit: www.conferenceleeds.co.uk/enquire/

To find out more about the conference, visit: communicationmatters.org.uk/what-we-do/conference/

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