Day 9 – Rest/Event Day in Vernon, British Columbia

I’m writing the first part of this blog sitting in our RV—hoisted up inside a garage for an oil change.  I woke up with full energy today, which is always a positive. We attended a wonderful event earlier today at the Schubert Centre in Vernon, B.C.  For the first time ever, the adult AAC speakers of the B.C. interior met each other today, and us.

Gail and I did a short 10-minute talk about Kilometres for Communication and our cross-Canada journey. Next on the agenda was an ice-breaker meeting game—AAC Jeopardy. Everyone was given 3 different questions on a card. An example of a question would be “Are you finishing writing a book?” Each person had to find the mystery people in the room who held the answers to their questions.

I met some phenomenal people today. By no means will the following stubby paragraphs do these people justice, but I’ll try my best.

I met a fellow named Bill whose form of communication astounded me. Bill has sensors on his head rest; one on each side of his head. Using these sensors, Bill taps out Morris Code with his head to spell what he wants to say. His computer translates his code out and can say it out loud for others to hear. From what I overheard in AAC Jeopardy, Bill is a local journalist.

Michelle is a writer and an artist; she is finishing a book and is planning her second trip to Australia. She has her own website: www.michellebritton.ca. On her site, you can view her art, read her blogs, and learn a bit more about her.  Check it out. Michelle communicates using a thumb trackball (if you’ve ever seen an ergonomic mouse with the trackball on the side) and an index finger clicker to operate her communication device.

Melissa has a lot of style. I could tell that by her tasteful knee-high boots and the vine of hearts tattoo on her arm. She is a leader and advocate for AAC funding in British Columbia. When the minister responsible for allocating funding was uncertain of future funding, she helped
put him in the awkward, bright spotlight through a social networking campaign. The funding was allocated in the end. Melissa maintained a 4.0 GPA in high school and is continuing to put the effort into whatever she does. She has educated many (including professionals), about how communication devices such as hers work. Her next goal is to get the momentum rolling behind her own non-profit awareness organization that strives for independence for everyone everywhere. She comes across as a connector—someone who knows a lot of people and has  a contagious personality. There’s more to come in the future on our website and blog about Melissa and her campaign for independence.

Kelly and her mom Colleen were both quite sweet. They showed us the Kilometres for Communication newspaper article that was in today’s
Vernon Morning Star. Kelly has a tracking dot positioned just above her nose. Her computer tracks the dot’s movement, and she is able to navigate her communication device’s screen (placed in front of her) by moving her head. I got a sense that Kelly had a good appreciation for humour. Leanne Love and Tim Johnson were the organizers of this great event. At one point, when Leanne was just in earshot,
and not talking to anyone else, Kelly said: “Hello, Leanne” with the computer-generated voice of her device. Leanne responded with the typical answer: “Hello, Kelly”. Then Kelly said “Hello, Leanne” several more times. I don’t know if this was intended, or if Kelly was simply stuck on a phrase as can sometimes happen on communication devices. Leanne replied, “I can just picture you waking me in the middle of the night: ‘Hello Leanne…Hello Leanne…’”. Kelly thought this was a riot (I thought it was quite comical too). She stopped saying hello to Leanne
after that moment.

I wish I could write about everyone I met today, but I need to share this computer, other campaign tasks need to be done, and both Gail and I need to get to sleep at a reasonable time—unlike what we’ve been doing. We’re still on that Pacific Time, so we better get our late sleeping habits corrected before we lose another hour to Mountain Time; yes, we’re that far already.

Huge thanks to Leanne Love and Tim Johnson for organizing today’s gathering. No photos today, but shortly we’ll have some photos from
today’s event up for all to see.

Tomorrow we’re off to Sicamous, the gateway to the Rockies.

Lots more to come,

-Skye

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