On 6 February 2018 Prof Juan Bornman (Director of the Centre for AAC at the University of Pretoria) and an international collaborator, Dr Ulrika Ferm (Director of DART Centre for Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and Assistive Technology (AT) and Associate Professor in Linguistics from Sahlgrenska University Hospital in Sweden, visited Pathways Pretoria.
Danita Nel, the Principal of Pathways Pretoria explained how the school operates and that they have a strong emphasis on providing picture-based support for all of the children in the school. She also explained that the support was not limited to the classroom, but that parent-training and providing parents with knowledge, skills and communication resources is also of paramount importance. Teachers and classroom aids are also encouraged to design and produce their own resources, relevant to their specific topics of discussion and classroom needs. Signs of creativity is abundant with high levels of enthusiasm and energy. Even the pumpkins are doing their best – in 2017 Pathways Pta came second in the Goliat van Gat Pumpkin Festival where the Champion pumpkin weighed no less than 556 kg!! Great pumpkin things are yet to come in 2018!
Visiting the beautifully maintained playground and classrooms and meeting the children was a highlight! A number of creative communication displays all over the school was noticed and it was evident that the visual supports were well used and were updated to include some recent topics, such as the heavy snowstorms in Russia! The older children were also using visual recipes to prepare toasted cheese sandwiches, while placemats with “table topics” facilitated lunchtime communication. In a toy-making project for early childhood development in rural areas of South Africa, step-by-step schedules were implemented to facilitate the production of the toys.
What a wonderful opportunity to see a school where teachers not only talk the AAC talk, but where they actually walk the AAC walk!