AAC Awards sign on TV

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.

screen displaying AAC Awards signage

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.

Janice Murray recieving the Research Award

a table dressed with wine glasses in ambiet light

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.

Three women standing with an award

CALL Scotland & Scottish Book Trust Partnership are the proud winners of the Outstanding Community Inclusion award

Group on a stage signing a song in Makaton

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

John Larkin posing with award

AAC Innovation Award
• Winner: Talking Mats
• Runner up: Debbie Jans and CODES


Student Award
• Winner: AT Therapy Mentors Team
• Runner up: Helen Paterson

Jamie Munro Award
• Winner: Anna Reeves
• Runner up: Marion Stanton

Anna Reeves took home the Jamie Munro award

Lifetime Achievement Award
• Paul Hawes

Paul Hawes won the Lifetime Achievement award

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.”

Merry Christmas 2018
Conference Awards 2018 - MEETinLEEDS and Communication Matters
Conference Awards 2018 - MEETinLEEDS and Communication Matters
MEETinLEEDS shortlisted for Conference Award
Communication Matters Balloons

Communication Matters

Communication Matters, the national charity which is part of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC), marks their 30th year at their Annual Conference which will be held at the University of Leeds from Sunday 11th – Tuesday 13th September 2016.

Communication Matters National AAC Conference (CM2016) is the leading annual Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) event and sees over 400 attendees come together to partake in workshops, talks and learn about advances in technology and research. The conference provides an opportunity for representatives from all disciplines associated with AAC to hear about and be part of the latest developments in the field. Platform and poster presentations will cover the areas of Best Practice Research, Clinical & Professional Experience and Personal Stories & Preferences. The conference will open with a 30th Anniversary Tea Party with music from Jive Duo, a Leeds-based Jazz duo, followed by the CM’s Got Talent Final with three competing video performances.

MEETinLEEDS, the conference office for the University of Leeds, will be providing event space for the conference, including the supplier exhibition which will be held in Parkinson Court. The University is also providing accommodation at the University’s flagship campus accommodation, Storm Jameson Court halls of residence which carries the highest possible accreditation under all categories of the National Accessible Scheme (NAS), with 20 fully accessible bedrooms (and the Gold Award for Sustainable Green Tourism).

The keynote speakers at this year’s conference are AAC user and international best-selling author of Ghost Boy, Martin Pistorius, and Dr Angharad Beckett, Associate Professor of Political Sociology and Deputy Director of the Centre for Disability Studies at the University of Leeds. In addition to the educational and exhibition elements of the conference, each year the Alan Martin Award is made to an AAC user who has made a significant contribution to the Creative Arts. The Award, first presented in 2013 was established to honour and commemorate Alan Martin who worked for the inclusion of all people within the arts regardless of their disability.

The conference is now into its fourth year at the university, with the charity’s main office being based in Leeds since 2015. The charity is now looking to encourage local AAC users to become members of Communication Matters. They are also looking for interest from both the public and private sectors in the city to become involved in and support initiatives such as the ‘Communication Access for All’ project, where CM will train local businesses in appropriate interactions with AAC users.

Speaking ahead of CM2016, Ruth Mcmorran, Deputy Chair of Communication Matters said:

“Communication Matters is looking forward to holding our annual conference at the University of Leeds in September 2016 for the fourth time. The layout of the campus at Leeds is ideal for us with the residential accommodation, refectory, exhibition area, lecture theatres and seminar rooms all located close together.  Many of our delegates are wheelchair users and the site is easily navigated and provides accessible routes to all buildings. The MEETinLEEDS team work extremely hard to ensure that each conference is better than the one before.”   

Harriet Boatwright, Sales and Marketing Manager at University of Leeds commented:

“Working alongside Communication Matters for the last 4 years has given MEETinLEEDS the opportunity to embrace and understand the specific requirements of the conference and the delegates in attendance.

The nature of the campus and flexibility of the venues is such that each year we are able to map out a conference site that meets the needs of the event and offers an exceptional space to host the attendees of the event, who we are delighted to have as a regular visitors to the University of Leeds.“

To book your place at CM2016, or to find out more about this excellent event, please visit the Communication Matters website


PICTURED (from L to R): Toby Hewson, Communication Matters Board member; Lisa Wood, MEETinLEEDS; Emma Broadhurst, MEETinLEEDS; Angie Dean, Charles Morris Hall; Catherine Harris, CM Chair; Barry Smith, CM Board member; Nicola Hayton, CM Board member; Anthony Lowe, MEETinLEEDS

The MEETinLEEDS Conference Team at the University of Leeds has been helping one of their key clients, settle in to their new home in Leeds.

Communication Matters, the UK Chapter of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (ISAAC), have hosted their annual conference at the University for the past two years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.  The conference is an amazing meeting place where people who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC); parents, professionals, researchers and suppliers gather for seminars, workshops and networking and to experience cutting edge communication aid technology within an impressive exhibition.

The conference is well supported by MEETinLEEDS, the University Conference team: Leeds is one of the few city venues that have good disabled access for a high number of people who use wheelchairs and plenty of good quality accommodation to meet their needs.


Communication Matters followed their launch party with a celebration lunch and awards ceremony at University House and were very impressed with the MEETinLEEDS events team:

Your attention to detail astounds me – from when we first muted the idea with you Anthony until John’s team put the last plate on the table – everything has been superb.  The presentation of the room on Saturday was tasteful and offered the right tone to the day.


We look forward to hosting the Communication Matters Annual Conference again later this year.


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