Register for the Conference

Register for Workshops only

The Organising Committee invites you to participate in the pre-conference workshops on offer at AGOSCI 2022 Conference. All pre-conference workshops will take place on Saturday 3 September 2022 at the Hotel Grand Chancellor Hobart. 

Bookings essential through the Registration Form.

Workshop One: Shared reading and comprehension – moving from emergent to - Full Day

Workshop Fee: 
Delegate – $270.00
Concession – $180.00

Workshop Overview:

Shared reading and comprehension instruction are important parts of comprehensive literacy instruction for all literacy learners.  For individuals with complex communication needs, shared reading is critical as it helps to create a language rich environment around books, improving language skills such as vocabulary, as well as literacy skills. Comprehension instruction then becomes important as individuals move into conventional literacy instruction – teaching them to use both language and literacy skills to independently extract information from texts, which is the ultimate goal of all reading.

This workshop will begin by focusing on shared reading, presenting a review of the information about from repeated interactive book readings with a knowledgeable other.  Four different language levels and the shared reading interactions which go along with these areas will be presented – and participants will be provided with opportunities to practice using the different shared reading activities at different language levels.

Shared reading is appropriate for all literacy learners, from the beginning of their literacy journey, until they are an early conventional literacy learner – and asthey transition into reading with comprehension, shared reading is still appropriate.  But it is very important, at this stage, that strategic and explicit comprehension instruction also becomes part of each individual’s literacy program.

In the second part of the workshop, the focus will therefore shift to evidence-based comprehension instruction, centered around a three part approach known as Anchor Read Apply.  Information will be provided to help participants link their instruction to Australian curriculum from Foundation and above

To view the Workshop Resources please click here. To access the password please visit the AGOSCI 2022 Mobile App.

Presented by Jane Farrall

Jane Farrall is a speech pathologist and special educator passionate about literacy, AAC and assistive technology. After 30 years in the disability and assistive technology field, she has lots of practical experience working with people with a range of abilities. Jane has worked as both a therapist and literacy teacher. She has also worked as an assistive technology specialist and is currently working as an independent consultant, running workshops and consulting with schools around Australia.  Her consultancy works focuses on implementing AAC and comprehensive literacy for all students.

As well as presenting workshops in Australia and internationally, Jane shares resources on her blog, her two websites and through online training – and she also has extensive experience running camps, workshops, and conferences on AAC and literacy in AAC.  You can read more about Jane at and find literacy resources at


Workshop Two: Supported decision making for people who communicate differently - Full Day

Handout 1
Handout 2

Workshop Fee: 
Delegate – $270.00
Concession – $180.00

Workshop Overview:

The right to exercise choice and control in one’s life is a central principle for NDIS participants. This can be empowering and enabling for people who can speak for themselves, explain to others what is important to them and what their hopes and dreams are. However, for people who communicate informally, and perhaps unintentionally, achieving the choice and control promised through the NDIS is usually not as straight forward. A person’s right to be supported to make and enact decisions about their own life expands well beyond the context of the NDIS, to all aspects of a person’s life.  Through this workshop participants will be introduced to the concept of supported decision making particularly focusing on how its principles can be applied to people who communicate informally and perhaps unintentionally. Jo will share her research focused on supported approaches to decision for people who communicate informally.

Presented by Dr Jo Watson

Dr Jo Watson has worked in the disability sector for over 30 years as a support worker, Speech Pathologist, academic and researcher advocating for the voices of people with complex communication support needs to be heard. Having lived and worked in a range of countries across the world Jo is known internationally for her practice and research in supported decision-making mechanisms particularly as they apply to people with complex communication support needs and intellectual disability. Her extensive practice and academic experience coupled with her personal experience as a sister and daughter of 2 women with disability, has enabled Dr Watson to develop a deep understanding of the barriers and enablers to inclusion, equality and citizenship for people with disability. Jo is Course Director of the Post Graduate program in Disability and Inclusion at Deakin University.

Workshop Three: AAC toolbox – Let’s Explore and Engage - Full Day

Workshop Fee: 
Delegate – $270.00
Concession – $180.00

Workshop Overview

What do you have in your AAC Toolbox? Does your AAC Toolbox need an upgrade?

Drawing on content and learnings from the successful Graduate Certificate in Complex Communication Needs offered at Edith Cowan University, and delivered by course designer and Lecturer, Laura Jones, this workshop will engage participants in a process of reflective and collaborative learning as we explore together just what we need in our AAC Toolbox. What we choose to put in and how we use our AAC Toolbox, as well as what we make available for different individuals to choose to use from their own AAC Toolbox can determine how easily and effectively we can support the voices of children and adults with unmet AAC needs to emerge. Whether you are a family member or professional brand new to the world of AAC, or whether you have years of experience to inform your judgements and practice, this workshop will encourage participants to consider an AAC Toolbox that goes well beyond simply “the tools”. We will explore the environmental and cultural underpinnings of authentic and sustainable communication support for people with Complex Communication Needs and explore what we, as professionals or family members, can bring to all our interactions to be more effective as communication partners. The processes of dynamic ongoing assessment, goal setting and system selection will be addressed from the perspectives of person-centred planning, social participation, relationships and a human rights framework.

For conference delegates who are new to the area of AAC and communication diversity, as well as delegates wishing to self-evaluate their current experiences, this workshop will promote ways to engage in ongoing reflective practice that will keep your practice and your AAC Toolbox current. The toolbox you take away from this workshop will include a deeper understanding of the key components of an adaptable, engaging AAC Toolbox that will support you to build communication accessible communities and support the voices of children and adults with unmet communication needs to emerge.

The workshop would be suitable for:

  • new-graduates and early career professionals
  • experienced educators and clinicians who would like to refresh their knowledge and skills in current trends in AAC and communication access
  • families who are just starting to explore AAC for their child and their child’s community
  • families who are experienced with AAC but want to build on their existing AAC toolbox and explore how it can be better put to use to support their child.

Presented by Laura Jones

Originally a teacher, Laura is a lecturer and a passionate advocate for the rights of children and adults with communication disability. She strongly believes that access to quality AAC and literacy instruction are social justice issues that require cross-sector systemic change to achieve vastly improved outcomes for people with communication disability.

Laura is a change agent who was instrumental in the design and development of the Graduate Certificate of Education: Complex Communication Needs Postgraduate Specialisation at Edith Cowan University in Western Australia. She has taught two of the Certificate’s units since its inception eight years ago.

Currently, Laura also works with the Complex Communication Needs Advocacy team at Developmental Disability WA who provide individual and systemic advocacy for people with communication disability to have their communication rights – indeed all their rights – restored and upheld.


Workshop Four: We REALLY need to discuss this!: Mental Health and AAC - Half Day 9am - 12pm

This workshop will be run from 9am – 12pm

Workshop Fee: 
Delegate – $175.00
Concession – $120.00

Workshop Overview:

“For years it has been a subject of taboo and stigma; after all they are only two small words – Mental. Health. Finally, and through much learning the words mental and health can be used together and not cause society to run and hide in fear!”

– Margie Charlesworth

Mental ill-health affects 1 in 5 Australians (Australian Bureau of Statistics [ABS], 2018), though this number may have climbed to 1 in 4 during the COVID-19 restrictions (Fisher et al., 2020).  In acknowledgement of an increased demand for mental health support, the Federal Government pledged over $100 000 000 to support the National Mental Health and Wellbeing Response Plan (Department of Health, 2020). However, there has been little discussion about the role of communication access in mental health support provision. Despite the potential for increased exposure to risk factors for mental ill-health (Di Marco & Iacono, 2007),  people who experience communication difficulties are rarely included in systemic efforts to aid mental health and wellbeing.

Margie and Eleanor believe that the tough conversations are important! Research demonstrates that communication partners may avoid the heavy topics that relate to mental health and wellbeing if they don’t feel confident  to discuss them (Balandin et al., 2006; Dark et al., 2011). The objective of our workshop is to start conversations about mental health that put communication rights at the centre and make the tough conversations easier. We will provide practical strategies and resources that help make checking-in with mental health simple. We will step you through getting the help you want and planning to maintain your mental health for the future.

Margie and Eleanor combine research and lived experience to promote equitable access to mental health support by people living with complex communication needs. They will deliver an interactive workshop that provides participants with an opportunity to learn more about their right to good mental health and wellbeing, and how to advocate for it.

This workshop is suitable for people with living experience of communication difficulties, everyday communication partners, and professionals. The workshop focuses on adult mental health support systems, and therefore is better suited to adults and youth.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Gain an understanding of mental health support from a human rights perspective.
  2. Gain an understanding of common mental health issues and how these may relate to people who experience complex communication needs.
  3. Learn strategies for having conversations about mental health and wellbeing.
  4. Learn about resources to plan to maintain your mental health and get help when you need it.

Presented by Margie Charlesworth and Elanor Watson

Margie Charlesworth

A Passionate advocate for the rights of people with people with disabilities, particularly those living with complex communication needs, Margie Charlesworth has worked in the disability sector for approximately 20  years. Since 2018 Margie has been a member of the Two Way Street team, where she wears many hats. She is also studying a Graduate Diploma in Counselling, so that she can work as a counsellor for people who use AAC.

Margie recognises a significant gap both in the research and the attention afforded to the reality, that people who use AAC can and do struggle with mental health and wellbeing. Not only does Margie bring her knowledge of using AAC to this much needed discussion, she also brings her own experience of having to navigate the mental health system.

Eleanor Watson

Eleanor is a Developmental Educator currently undertaking PhD research at Flinders University. Her PhD research project is titled Connecting to Wellbeing: Improving communication access in mental health supports with people with complex communication needs. Eleanor’s studies are motivated by the belief that everybody is entitled to good mental health support.

Prior to commencing doctorate studies, Eleanor was employed for 13 years in the human services sector. Most recently, working with adults with disabilities and co-existing mental health difficulties. It was during this time that Eleanor noted the challenges facing people with communication difficulties in accessing effective support to manage and maintain optimum mental health.

Workshop Five: Key Word Sign Basic Workshop – Practical Session - Half Day 1pm - 5pm - WORKSHOP FULL

This workshop will run from 1pm – 5pm

Workshop Fee: 
Delegate – $175.00

Workshop Overview:

Key Word Sign and Gesture is the unaided form of AAC, and has been shown to benefit people of all ages with communication difficulty or complex communication needs.  It is often used in conjunction with aided forms of AAC.

Participants will be introduced to the principles of Key Word Sign and will learn approximately 80 signs from the Interactive Vocabulary and how to use them with common natural gestures. Participants will be engaged in a range of individual, small group and large group activities in which to learn and practice Key Word Sign accuracy and fluency. Resources to support key word sign vocabulary development will be explored within the context of practical signing activities.

This introductory signing course would suit individuals who have little or no knowledge of Key Word Sign and who would like to increase their skills in identifying and using an initial vocabulary of signs and gestures.

Registration for this workshop includes access to the Theory component of the Basic Key Word Sign Workshop.  This is an online eLearning module and will need to be completed before attending this Practical session. Completion of the Theory and Practical components fulfils the requirements of Basic Key Word Sign Qualification.

  • Be one of the first to experience the new blended format of the Key Word Sign Basic Workshop
  • A pre-requisite for those wanting to progress through the Key Word Sign training pathway to access Intermediate, Advanced and Presenter training
  • Gain your Basic Key Word Sign qualification and receive a certificate
  • This opportunity provides flexibility and increased access for those wanting to learn more about Key Word Sign. You will complete the theory component of this workshop via an interactive eLearning module, at a time that is convenient for you prior attending the practical component delivered at the AGOSCI pre-conference workshop by Key Word Sign’s National Coordinator, Libby Brownlie