The very first Communication Matters AAC Awards 2019 took place at the University of Leeds on Friday 11th October, as part of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Awareness month. As the first of its kind, the awards ceremony celebrated the individuals,that use all forms of communication, their families, as well as the companies and professionals that provide support in these areas.
The evening celebrated nine award categories, crediting multiple winners for their hard work and dedication to the AAC community. The Research Award, which was created to recognise those that have made strides towards valuable research within the AAC sector, was scooped up by Professor Janice Murray due to her highly regarded research projects in the field of language, disability and AAC as well as her successful presentations at international conferences. Runners up of the award include Oliver Wendt and the I-ASC Project, which was managed under the leadership of award-winner Professor Janice Murray.
The Outstanding Community Inclusion award was designed to celebrate those who have made exceptional contributions to AAC use within local communities across the country. CALL Scotland & Scottish Book Trust Partnership are the proud winners of the award, due to their hard work in creating accessible digital versions of the Bookbug Bag; meaning that three books are gifted to every Primary 1 child across the whole of Scotland, making resources for children with communication difficulties easy and accessible. Runners up include Sign Out Loud, who were recognised for the vital service that they provide, that not only enriches the lives of young adults and children with communication needs, but also makes Makaton signing an accessible and fun pastime for the whole of the Lancaster community.
Another stand-out category included the Rising Star award, which was awarded to 16-year-old Laith Ritchie for making such a significant impact on the lives of many AAC users over the past 12 months. Since attending the Communication Matters conference last year and listening to the ATmentor team share information about their role, Laith immediately registered his interest in working as an ATmentor himself, and by October 2018, he was volunteering on the team and demonstrating consistent hard work, commitment and an eagerness to learn. Runners up to the category include Amy Hanschell and Jemima Hughes, who showcased exceptional commitment and dedication to the AAC community.
Other awards include:
Setting of the Year Award
• Winner: ACE Centre
• Runners up: SCTCI and 1 Voice
Alan Martin Award
• Winner: John Larkins
• Runners up: Jodie Turner and Oli Cunningham
AAC Innovation Award
• Winner: Talking Mats
• Runner up: Debbie Jans and CODES
• Winner: AT Therapy Mentors Team
• Runner up: Helen Paterson
Jamie Munro Award
• Winner: Anna Reeves
• Runner up: Marion Stanton
Lifetime Achievement Award
• Paul Hawes
Harriet Boatwright, Sales and Marketing Manager from MEETinLEEDS, commented: “We’re absolutely thrilled that the very first AAC awards with Communication Matters was such a huge success. It’s wonderful to be able to honour those within the AAC community and we would like to congratulate the many winners from the evening. We look forward to working with Communication Matters on future award ceremonies!”
Helen Whittle, Chair of the Board of Trustees of Communication Matters, commented: “We’re over the moon with the response to the recent AAC Awards ceremony. We believe in celebrating the dedication and commitment of those who work so hard within the AAC sector, and these awards created the perfect opportunity to do exactly that. We’re so grateful for all of the work that MEETinLEEDS have dedicated to the awards ceremony to help it run so smoothly, and we look forward to continuing to celebrate those within the AAC community in future award ceremonies.”