The Bliss I-Band produced this video to express their appreciation to the cast and production team of Virgin River; to show their enjoyment of the Virgin River series; and to share their pleasure with friends..
At our zoom premiere on Nov. 1, Bliss I-Band members were delighted to present Bliss i-Band “Virgin River Medley” to a group of old friends. The following are some screen shots of some of those who attended, as they watched the video.
On November 1st, we also shared a short clip that reminded us of the many good times Bliss users and alumni had at the Bliss Learning Centre in Bala. Below is the link to a view of the Bliss House and a group sharing dinner and our music grace. The video ends with a view of the Moon River, reminding us of the many associations we have with Virgin River.
At our first Bliss Town Hall, held on April 17, 2023, everything went well except for one missing link! Our zoom host, Elaine Drover did not have an experienced support person with her and neither Elaine nor her new helper, Munna had been taught the difference between “private” and “everyone” zoom chat messages. Nor did Munna have the experience to help when Elaine’s voca failed to repeat her entire message. (See ***) After her opening message, all of Elaine’s messages went privately to Shirley and not to the full group! The group members took action and volunteered their messages, without prompting. So the meeting proceeded. However, Elaine did not know her messages were not being received and the group did not know Elaine was messaging!
Here is what Elaine had prepared in advance to open the meeting:
*** WELCOME TO OUR COMMNINCCATE MEETING., WE .CA N ‘TALK THROUHGH VOCA AND LETTERS BOARDS.. WE CAN SHARE IDEAS WITH EACH OTHER. WE ALS’ UNDERSTAND WHEN PEOPLE TALK TO US, WEE ARE SMART TOO. WE KNOW WHAT WE THINK ABD FEEL. W E ALSO PLAY MUSIC WITH IPADS.Ñ WE HAVE FUN. I trust people. I had good frriiend ALEN became a coundeller- WHERE I LIVED AN WE TA;KED ALOT MRS. MARTIN WAS MY TEACHER. WE Develop A RELEATSHIP LOVE AAND HATE RELEAT
I KNEW THIS BEATIIFUL LADY WHO USED BLISSS. SHHE LOVED LLIFE. SUE SHOWED ME HOW I MPORTANT LISTEN TO ANTHOER PERSON HERE TODAY WE SHARED AND SHARING EVERYDAY.
OUR FRIEND PAUL WORKED HARD. I HAVE BEEN IN THEIR CONFORTABLE. In the world we bring something to the table horw you, feel or just need a llittkle heart MUSIC WITH IPAD IS BEATIFUL WE ENJOY EVERY WEEK. WR ARE LUCLY THOSE PEOPLE CAREE TO HAPPEN.
COMMUNICATE IN VERY IMPPORTANT.
(Shirley)The above message did not get communicated to the group! I am pleased we can share it now in Blissful Thoughts!!I am glad that Elaine paid tribute to Sue Odell (1953-1994) and Paul Marshall (1963-2016). They were both wonderful role models for the Bliss alumni who followed them!We thank Munna for stepping in at the last minute to try to help Elaine. Next time we will give Munna more assistance in advance.
Here is a record of Elaine’s chat messages:
13:00:19 From Elaine Drover to Everyone:
13:01:10 From Elaine Drover to Everyone:
WE (See *** above)
13:37:37 From Elaine Drover with Munna to Shirley McNaughton(Direct Message):
I THINK SOMEONE ELSE TURN
13:52:24 From Elaine Drover with Munna to Shirley McNaughton(Direct Message):
From Elaine Drover with Munna to Shirley McNaughton(Direct Message):
PHONEEEEE IS VERY I,MPORTANT WITH VOCA
14:10:42 From Elaine Drover with Munna to Shirley McNaughton(Direct Message):
14:11:29 From Elaine Drover with Munna to Shirley McNaughton(Direct Message):
WE SPELL WORDS
(Shirley) In context during the Town Hall, Elaine’s messages would have made a supportive contribution to the discussion. Too bad, I was not quick enough to realize I needed to pass them on to the full group!
I had a different Christmas once again this year. After two years of being in Toronto for Christmas because of covid and not seeing my mom and brother, my sister and I planned to go to Cornwall to be with them this year. But the weather had a different idea. Like many people, we had to change plans. On boxing day, we went to Cornwall. I secretly asked my sister-in-law to get my gift for my sister since I can’t go shopping yet and she did. When we went to my mom’s residence, I had a surprise. I saw one of my old teachers from public school. It was nice to see her again
by Samantha Millar
Not Christmas day in the regular calendar year but my family celebrated in January. On December 25th, Mom, Dad, Grandma, Jayme, and I quietly celebrated Christmas. The rest of my family were not able to come because of the snow and some of them were unwell.
On January 21st, my aunt, uncle, cousins, Jayme’s boyfriend (Ian), and my immediate family celebrated Christmas. We ate meatloaf, not turkey but it was really good. We had a lot of fun playing together that day!!!
For those who did not know about or who were unable to attend the Youtube Premiere of “My Voice My Song”, here is the link.
We dedicated this song, written for the Bliss i-Band by Mark Weinstock, to Roslyn Irvine, Speech-Language Pathologist & Clinical Coordinator, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Clinic, West Park Healthcare Centre, Toronto.
Ros is retiring and returning to Australia after three decades in Canada. Many of the Bliss I-Band members have benefitted from the dedicated service Ros has provided to them at Westpark Clinic. We who have been her colleagues over the years have enjoyed working with Ros and we value highly her many contributions to the field of AAC.
The lyrics for “My Voice My Song” were written by Mark after hearing the lyrics of “Take the Time” written by Kari Harrington. They express well what Ros Irvine knew about the AAC users she served!
We wish Ros much health and happiness in retirement!
I remembered “I Have a Flower”as one of my favourite books written for Bliss users in the 70’s. I wanted to include it in our U of T digital archival collection, but it took clever searching by the OISE students working on our collection to locate the author and gain permission to digitize the book. Fortunately, they found Jacquie Krech, gained her permission and shared her email address with me. I have enjoyed re-connecting with her after 40 years. Jacquie is a wonderful example of the dedicated and resourceful teachers who helped our Bliss users in the early days. They changed the lives of the students whom they taught!
By Jackie Krech
When Derrin entered my classroom in Oakville in the late seventies, he was using the 100 character Bliss board to communicate. The only verbal communication within his capability was the repeated uttering of the letter “p”. Since I was unable to communicate with Derrin because of my lack of knowledge of Bliss symbols, I enrolled in workshops at the then Crippled Children’s Centre (OCCC) in Toronto. There, under the tutelage of Shirley McNaughton and her colleagues, I worked through a series of lessons and workshops until I was proficient in the use of Bliss symbols and could joyfully communicate with Derrin. Seeing the excitement he experienced in our new-found ability to talk with each other through Bliss-characters, was a fantastic experience for me.
To help Derrin, I inserted Bliss symbols above words in a variety of books so Derrin could read them. One of the books was a science book and his interest in that book sparked a lesson. We rooted a branch of an impatiens plant and subsequently planted it in a pot in the classroom. Everyday Derrin came to class, he checked on the progress of his plant. He was delighted when the plant produced a flower. That is what inspired me to write a story for him. After repeated editing with Shirley and Mr. Bliss, the simple story became the book you see today. It was Mr. Bliss who asked for the addition of the meaning behind the symbols to be included.
Derrin was late for school one day. His assistant told me Derrin wouldn’t talk to anyone: however, his behaviour indicated he was obviously upset about something. After awhile, Derrin began to talk to me through his Bliss board. The sentence he formed was “God put pain in my throat”. I wheeled Derrin to the school nurse who examined Derrin and discovered he had strep throat. It wasn’t hard to imagine the discomfort Derrin was experiencing with the pain, fever, swollen tonsils, etc. that are signs and symptoms of this virus. Without Bliss symbols, Derrin could not have told me the cause of his discomfort.
Although my career took twists and turns that moved me away from Derrin, I hold the experiences I gained learning and applying Bliss symbolics to classroom learning experiences as one of the highlights of my teaching career.
Note from Shirley:
Here are some pictures of Derrin as an adult, when he lived in Brantford and was a member of the Brantford Bliss group. Our Bliss alumni in Toronto keep in touch with the Brantford Bliss folk through BCIC Board meetings and study group meetings. Anne O’Malley is their decades-long facilitator and is seen helping Derrin in one of the pictures. We miss Derrin now that he has moved to Kirkland Lake, but we hope to find ways to keep in touch!
Rhonda McCaig had her 60th birthday celebration in September. Rhonda’s friend, Kelly McGillvray arranged for some of her fellow musician friends to play at her party. We all met Kelly when she stepped in to be Rhonda’s helper for the weeks when Elaine was in the UK. I am sure everyone had a great time. Happy Birthday!!
A Wonderful outdoor birthday!
Breaking the Ice Town Hall
On September 21 there was Breaking the Ice Town Hall. The topics were pets, travel, and sports. The participants were divided into two break out rooms to discuss these topics.
Samantha attended the discussion on Pets. This is what Samantha prepared:
“My family and I have a dog named Riley. She is a Havanese puppy. Riley was born on May 24, 2022. My family and I are going to puppy classes with Riley. She is very smart. I love Riley!!!”
One of the questions that was asked during the pets session was, “How do you talk with your pet using your AAC device? Do they listen?” I thought this was a good question. I do have some phrases in my computer like “Riley, come!” and “Riley, sit!” but Riley doesn’t listen to my computer voice, so I have changed it to my mother’s voice. I’m not sure it works any better.
Carolyn attended the ‘travel and sports’ session. This is what Carolyn prepared:
“”I like to travel to get away from everything and my problems and I like to see new places. My favourite trips are to London, New York City and Boston. In London, I like to go on the London Eye and go for walks around London, especially to see Buckingham Palace. In New York City and London. I like going to the theatre. I also enjoy going for walks in New York City and Boston.”
Other participants had visited Disney (or wished to!), Niagara Falls, or had come from far away places such as Iran and Turkey. Most participants liked to go to Blue Jays games. One participant combined sports and travel by biking to the East Coast as a fundraising trip!
It was bad. I was a bad kid, I think. I bit myself. I cried when I had to go home on weekends. During the week, I stayed with my Aunt Irene before she got blind. She had limited vision when I was young. I liked being there with my cousins, Leslie and Garry. We enjoyed watching TV together, especially seeing the Monkees and Batman.
I felt like a yoyo, going back and forth. At that age (before I was 6) I was wondering why I had to keep coming and going. I didn’t understand at that age that my mother had to work. I thought that I was very dumb. I thought at first that she was giving me away. I wondered at that age, why I was so dumb.
When I was in the Bliss class at OCCC beginning in 1972-1973 school year, my best friend was Greg Keefe. I stayed over at his place and we took turns staying over at each other’s place. Our mothers were friends.
Bliss was my mouth to talk. I remember “boy” and ‘girl”, and “mom” and “dad”symbols. I was shy so I didn’t talk to the other kids.
I had a crush on Sherri who was in Miss Norman’s class. Greg did too! Sherri had black hair and she played with dolls.
I knew Kevin and David (Shirley’s two sons). We saw them playing outside when Greg’s mom drove past Shirley’s house. Mrs. Keefe stopped at Shirley’s house 4 times. She beeped her car horn.
I remember. Scott Bond. He was the same as me, shy. Here’s what Scott, Greg and I looked like in Shirley’s book “Symbol Secrets”.
I also remember Mrs. Snetsinger and Mrs Barlow.
There is another teacher I remember, Mrs. Bederman. She used to tease me. She gave us grape juice on Jewish holiday. I don’t have a picture of her.
There is more to come….. about my move to Erin Oak Children’s Treatment Centre.
Joe Jessop will share more of his memories in the next episode.
I would like to wish everyone who has a birthday in the summer, a very Happy Birthday!
In May, Carolyn celebrates her birthday.
In June, Fran, Aaron, and Elaine W celebrate their birthday. In July, Elaine D and Gabriel celebrate their birthday and in August Samantha celebrates her birthday. Please send emails during the summer to wish them a Happy Birthday.
Carolyn May 28
Fran June 5
Aaron June 15
Elaine W June 15
Elaine D July 6
Gabriel July 18
Samantha August 14
by Samantha Millar
Breaking the Ice Virtual Town Halls: January 29 and April 23, 2022
AAC and Identity was the topic for two Breaking the Ice Virtual Town Hall sessions. The discussion leader was Beth Moulam. She is a Social Policy graduate, Paralympic boccia athlete and blogger. She draws on lived experience of cerebral palsy, speech and hearing impairments to raise awareness of those who use AAC, the value of an active lifestyle and making your dreams come true. Beth is passionate to empower others to fulfill their own communication and life potential; she leads her own support team living independently. Beth has been an International speaker since 2006 including Co-leading and mentoring on the ISAAC 2018 ‘Dare to Lead’ programme and in 2020 an invited ISAAC Pathways to Leadership speaker. Beth delivers workshops, facilitates training collaboratively and mentors AAC groups/individuals.
Beth’s main point to AAC users was that “How others see you is not important. How you see yourself means everything.”
The first Town Hall looked at identity by asking participants to answer three identity questions:
How would you describe yourself in five words?
What three words describe what you think you are good at?
Which three positive words would you like others to use to describe you?
The second Town Hall addressed the questions:
1. Think of an ANIMAL you identify with. What 3 words or 1 short sentence describe why you identify with this animal?
2. Think of a COLOUR you identify with. What 3 words or 1 short sentence describe why you identify with that colour?
3. Think of a PICTURE that you identify with. What 3 words or 1 short sentence describe why you identify with that picture? It could be a picture of you, nature, a place or anything else you connect with.
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