Our clinical team and CEO Anita recently attended the first Global AG Bell symposium in Madrid.

This international conference creates a space where professionals practicing in Auditory Verbal therapy can learn, connect and network with others from around the world. We were invited to present our work at the conference, allowing others from across the world to learn from our experience of practicing Auditory Verbal therapy in the UK.

CEO Anita and therapists Estelle, Noel, Natalie and Louise in Madrid

We were delighted to discuss our latest research and AG Bell accredited training programme with delegates visiting our exhibition stand, which also featured our AVUK books, Baby Talk and Violet’s Story.

Our therapists also attended workshops and presentations led by international experts, and gained valuable experience for using in our sessions with families.

We asked our therapists and CEO some questions about the conference in Madrid…

Specialist Speech and Language Therapist Natalie mans the AVUK stand

What was it like presenting at the conference?

Estelle: “It was a great experience presenting at the conference workshop with two colleagues. The presentation was in two parts half theory and half practical. Our feedback was very positive.”

Frances: “It was an honour to present at the symposium. I learned a lot from working with a panel from around the world, talking about social and emotional development. I also shared some exciting projects we are in the process of developing with Lyndsey Allen from Think, Talk, Learn.”

Auditory Verbal Therapist Noel presents a workshop in Madrid

Noel: “It was an honour to be running a three-hour workshop with my colleagues Estelle and Louise. This was the first time I presented at AG Bell and it was an achievement in itself. The workshop focused on understanding children’s play schema and how to use this understanding when planning our therapy sessions. It was so well received that we are repeating it in our London Centre on the 30th September 2019 and then again online on the 14th November.”

What did you enjoy the most?

Emma: “As a newly qualified Auditory Verbal therapist, meeting the people who have had an impact in the field was fascinating. In the day to day job there is never enough time to discuss new thoughts, AG Bell provided a space to share and think about new ideas with colleagues from all over the world.”

Natalie: “Being immersed in a community of like-minded individuals that are passionate about improving the outcomes for deaf children and ready to support other professionals in the field.”

How many countries were at the symposium?

Natalie: “There were about 400 delegates from 40 countries, which is AMAZING!"

Auditory Verbal Therapist Louise with AVUK's training delegates from Denmark

What was it like having the conference in Madrid?

Anita: “It was great to have the symposium in Europe for the first time, enabling colleagues from around the world to meet in Madrid. We had previously only been able to send one or two delegates to the conferences in America due to distance, time and costs, but the Madrid location enabled more of the AVUK clinical team to attend; to share their work; to present at sessions and to learn from international colleagues. A great location, despite the 40 degree heatwave!”

Natalie: “Hot! It was great to hold the symposium in Europe where Auditory Verbal practice is really developing and professionals could access information about what other organisations are doing around the world.”

Auditory Verbal Therapist Frances Clark and Lyndsey Allen

Frances: “Having the conference in Madrid meant that there were delegates from over 40 countries. This was impactful in terms of moving forward. As a member of the AG Bell global matters committee, we were able to find out what people need and how we may be able to go about meeting those needs in future. We made links with many colleagues from around the globe and look forward to strengthening our relationships.”

Did people like our books ‘Violet’s story’ and ‘Baby Talk’?

Anita: “The books were very popular. People loved the fact that they featured children wearing hearing technology and that they provided tips for adults when sharing the books with children. Many therapists bought copies to use in their practice and it was great to see that copies of both books will reach people in every continent as a result of the conference.”

Natalie: “We have had fantastic feedback about both our books. Professionals particularly seemed to enjoy the parent coaching tips and ideas that both books incorporated. Parents seemed to love the fact that they included photos of children with technology and helped to develop children’s identity as deaf individuals.”

Anything else you’d like to share about the conference? Any exciting things you did/learnt?

Estelle: “I particularly enjoyed the presentations on Resilience and ANSD and of course the highly entertaining and informative final keynote presentation from the Jane Madell and Carol Flexer tag team.”

Anita: “The opportunity to meet with old friends, to make new ones and to learn from the broad range of international speakers was so valuable, as well as to see the many people from around the world that we are training through our AG Bell accredited programme, all in one place!

"As the UK Ambassador for the conference, I joined my fellow ambassadors from other countries to discuss the ways in which we work together to spread best practice in listening and spoken language around the world.

"I really enjoyed listening to the keynote speakers, including Professor Gerard O’Donoghue from the UK and the sessions on telepractice and supporting families at a distance, which is something that we are doing more and more of at AVUK. It was also wonderful to see the work of Dr Carol Flexer honoured by AG Bell at the conference. We have been very fortunate to benefit from her expertise, including her advice on the development of our Baby Talk book.”

Auditory Verbal Therapist and Research Co-ordinator Sarah Hogan

Natalie: “Everyone was incredibly humble, friendly and kind. We loved speaking to a range of individuals on our stand and hope that the friendships and connections that we made may be strengthened in years to come.”

Noel: “The best part of the AG Bell symposium was seeing the amount of amazing work that is happening around the globe. Seeing the different professionals from across the UK and beyond who have trained with us or currently on our Foundation or Advanced courses was a particular highlight. Past and current AVUK trainees from Denmark, Ireland, South Africa, Italy, France and many more countries all under one roof. It was a unique experience.”