Blissymbolics Archive Treasure #1

The beginning stage of developing the Blissymbolics Archival Collection has been underway since the fall of 2019. This project has been made possible through a generous donation to Blissymbolics Communication Institute – Canada (BCIC) by Margaret (Peg) Rooks, following the death of her husband, Rob Rooks, April 23, 2019. Both Peg and Rob have been supporters of our Bliss program through many years! Upon completion, the Blissymbolics Archive Collection will be housed in the University of Toronto Archives Library. Below you see the U of T storage facility where Russell Galvin, BCI Board Member arranged a visit for Margareta Jennische, BCI president, and me last November.

At this time (August, 2020), the materials stored in my storage unit are being sorted, organized and placed in bankers boxes for delivery to the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE). There they will be prepared for storage in the University of Toronto Archives Library. This work is being done with the help of Rebecca Chan, who helps BCIC projects in a myriad of ways – as technical coordinator for Bliss i-Band, as assistant in Bliss Study Group and Board of Directors meetings, as helper to Bliss users, as our resident videographer.

Rebecca showing the first completed 12 boxes in the storage unit.

Currently, Rebecca and I are working at my home, sorting through those famous shopping bags and cartons, and entering the documents into a data base prior to putting them into more OISE boxes.

As we worked away yesterday, and continued discovering materials that reminded me of memorable happenings in our Bliss history, we thought of sharing our enjoyment in Blissful Thoughts. So from time to time, we will be making short videos and I will be making an entry about a “finding”!

Here is the first Archive Treasure for Blissful Thoughts!

Autocom- made- Blisscom, in the 70’s – 80’s

Most fortuitously, Penny Parnes, who was Director of the Augmentative Communication Service (ACS), 1979-1990, at what is now called the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, , came across a picture of the autocom during her COVID-19 ‘sorting pictures’ time in March, 2020. In the above picture, Penny is demonstrating the device for her daughter Sarah and a friend. You can see the control mechanism in Penny’s hand. It is shaped like a flat iron. It was a perfect shape for users like Sue Odell, to maintain a firm grip. To date, this is the only picture we have found of the device.

In the short video that follows, I describe how the autocom worked and share a little of its history. We called the version of the autocom produced with Blissymbols by the TRACE Centre, the Blisscom.

Below you see Sue Odell working with Shirley, using her manual communication board. There will be another Blissful Thought telling about another device Sue helped design in the nineties. Watch for the entry about BMW!

Shirley working with Sue Odell .
More than likely Sue was giving some directions for a project! Sue was very good at telling us what she thought we should be doing!

2 Replies to “Blissymbolics Archive Treasure #1”

  1. Great post. It brings back so many positive memories. When I read it I remember the energy and excitement of those early days of AAC

  2. Thank you Shirley (and Rebecca).
    So interesting to see some of this stuff. I don’t envy you the job of organizing all of this, but it’s fun to see and reminisce.

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