This update is long overdue! It’s been a busy year but no more so than usual so no excuse really. Here’s the latest on the AAC Camp developments.
I’ve gotten lots of feedback on how great it would be to have an AAC Camp here in the UK. The biggest obstacle right now is money. In order to raise funds, we’ll need to show what can be done with very little funding. I’ve been thinking the the best way to ensure an accessible camp on a tight budget is to squeeze all the functionality out of the VOCAs. It would be great some day to have horse riding and zip lines but right now, with low financial investment, we could focus on developing abilities to use Skype, social media and email. We could look at developing abilities to play music, read books or access the environmental control capabilities.
So our team developed Camplify, a 3 day camp we ran last summer. We could only offer it to campers on the Whittington Health caseload and we really only focused on email, but the activities were built around what the PWUAAC wanted to do.
Here’s what went in the newsletter:
This summer Whittington Health specialist SLTs hosted Camplify, a three day camp for people who use AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) devices. These devices not only provide a voice from them in their immediate settings but can also offer them an online “voice” to use social media, video conferencing and email platforms.
Campers were asked to rate their abilities using these platforms and therapists created camp activities that targeted key skills needed to improve their use. All campers reported a significant improvement on their platform targets. Campers also reviewed the dangers of online interactions and discussed strategies to block contacts and report abuse. Post camp surveys reported that the camp was “very beneficial” and that they were “extremely likely” to recommend Camplify to their friends and family.
So it was a success! It was also a lot of fun! We used email and the Grid 3 to create a world where the camper is an intergalactic spy on a mission, receiving hyperspace transmissions (via email) from the command center to advise their actions. It was based on a “Choose Your Own Adventure” grid set from Smartbox’s online grids. If I were to do it again I would definitely use some form of video conferencing, like Skype, to improve communication. Emails can take such a long to travel across the galaxy.
As for the next steps, I want to offer Camplify to the rest of London so I need to put a short breaks package together. It’s a little clunky at the moment because there aren’t many potential campers in Islington but we’ll start here and spread the offer to other boroughs.
That raises an additional challenge. Home boroughs won’t send students to a short break in another borough if that break is already offered in their borough. We will have to show how Camplify and other AAC camps are different than existing short breaks. This kind of challenge will certainly help focus the camp and it mission. I can’t wait!
Thanks for following AAC Camp UK either on the website or on Facebook.
Until next time