Blissymbolics International Panel Meeting
Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Aug 1- 5, 2016
Lots of accomplishment! Lots of reunions with colleagues of many years (decades)! Lots of discoveries! Lots of Challenges!
The primary purpose of our meeting was to devote four days to the development of new Bliss vocabulary. With this goal in mind, 31 persons from nine countries worked together from early each morning to late each night to create over 60 new Bliss-words - except for Thursday evening when the group organized a party. At our social evening, we especially enjoyed the singing of lyrics written by Bliss users. We tried our best but learned we were very much out of practice in singing the Bliss Alphabet Song!
The highlight for many of those attending the daily work sessions was the presence throughout the week of 10 Bliss users/alumni who participated enthusiastically in the discussions. Under the experienced leadership of Margareta Jennische, Sweden, we shared the vigorous exchange of ideas that we all associate with the Panel work. While emotions reached high levels, from time to time, as different perspectives were defended, we all enjoyed the accomplishment of creating new Bliss-words. The decisions regarding all the new vocabulary were faithfully reported by Wern Palmius, Sweden, and Kerstin Hellberg, Norway. The Authorized Vocabulary continues to grow!
On Thursday, a parallel daylong session focussing on technology was ably chaired by Mats Lundälv. By means of “GoToMeeting”, 12 developers from 9 countries presented their work. Projects ranged from concrete projects of Bliss app development, over resource development for Bliss (lexicon databases, Bliss as a Unicode character set, and as scalable graphics), and to research projects involving Bliss. Presentations and other materials are available at: www.symbolnet.org/bliss/2016-tm/BCI_Bliss_Tech_Day.html
Throughout the week, several sessions were held to discuss the challenges faced by BCI as it fulfills its twofold mandate — firstly, in maintaining the standards for Blissymbolics as an International Bridging Language, and secondly, through recognizing and guiding the accommodations that are required when Blissymbolics is applied as a Bridging Language for educational, software, and language learning purposes.
BCI undertakes its first responsibility through maintaining and supporting an expanding Authorized Vocabulary (AV), currently of 5,588 Bliss-words, and through maintaining and updating the Fundamental Rules. To support broader applications of the AV, Michael Everson, Ireland, has worked for many years to identify the characters of all the Bliss-words in the AV, to be submitted for acceptance into the Unicode universal character set. Michael described to the group, on several occasions, the advantages and the constraints that this opportunity presents to BCI.
Bringing attention to BCI’s second responsibility, Margareta Jennische presented the views of those teaching Blissymbols in their classrooms in the non-English-speaking countries from whom she has learned much through discussions during the many workshops she has given in recent years.
During the week, we were reminded by Shirley McNaughton, Canada, of the time and effort that has always been required to address BCI’s two-fold responsibility. At the AGM held on Wednesday evening, the new Board of Directors was given the task of addressing the issues arising from this complex mandate of BCI. Position papers have been written by Michael Everson,
Margareta Jennische and Mats
Lundalv to assist the Board in their work.
The efforts of many persons contributed to the success of the meeting:
- All those who participated so enthusiastically in the discussions - Bliss supporters and Bliss users/alumni,
- Margareta Jennische who led all the Bliss-word development sessions,
- Britt Amberntson, who provided assistance to Margareta throughout the week,
- Werne Palmius and Kerstin Heilsberg, who took notes of all the Panel’s development work,
- Mats Lundalv, who coordinated all the technology for conducting the meetings, and who led the Thursday Technology Discussion through ‘GoToMeeting’,
-Michael Everson, who provided extensive Unicode information throughout the week,
- Gillian Hazel,who chaired, took notes and contributed valuable insights throughout the Policy discussions,
* Katherine Seybold, who served as liaison with Brock University, processed all the applications, and undertook all the administrative and financial planning required to host the meeting,
* Shirley McNaughton, who provided an historical perspective for Policy discussions during the meeting and who coordinated the participation of the 5 Bliss users who stayed in residence and attended the meeting for the full week,
* Rebecca Chan who assisted in a myriad of ways throughout the meeting and who made the arrangements for our Reunion Dinner in Toronto on Friday evening,
* Anne O’Malley, who coordinated the attendance of the 6 Bliss users from Brantford Participation House
* The companions and personal care givers of all the Bliss users/alumni who contributed so much to the meeting.
Our group picture and work pictures are a wonderful reminder of the enjoyment and achievement of those who attended the meeting.
Our logo summarizes what our meeting was about!
Growing our ‘Bliss’ together!
Here are the “best things: about the meeting,
as expressed by four Canadians who attended the four days:
Elaine - Meeting all the people
Joe - It was like being back in the early days of Bliss (1970’s) - making up symbols
Rebecca - Everyone worked and was enthusiastic for a common purpose
Shirley - The contribution of Bliss users/alumni and the appreciation of their input by all those who attended.