BCI Panel Meeting in Pittsburgh

The international panel (IP) meeting this year was held in Pittsburgh just before the ISAAC meeting. The IP had got a generous offer from Bruce Baker to host the meeting at Semantic Compaction Systems in Pittsburgh. We enjoyed this venue in the middle of the vast collection of art in the building. We are also thankful to Bruce and his colleagues for all good food in the mornings, for the great buffet party at the SCS parking and the good dinner at Bruce’s home during the last evening.

Participants at the IP meeting this time were:

  • Shirley and Bob McNaughton, Canada

  • Sharif Mamun, Bangladesh

  • Annette Nylund, Finland

  • Annemie Van Roy, Belgium

  • Kaat Lagae, Belgium

  • Gillian Hazell, UK

  • Peter and Angela Sein UK

  • John Brown, USA

  • Ingrid Mattsson-Müller, Sweden

  • Mats Lundälv, Sweden

  • Marianne Zetterlund, Sweden

  • Britt Amberntsson, Sweden

  • Wern Palmius, Sweden

  • Margareta Jennische, Sweden

We missed many of the active members of the IP, but we, who had made it to Pittsburgh worked hard and accomplished a lot. We particularly enjoyed having Shirley and Bob with us! About 90 new bliss-words were developed. Inner organs have for a long time been on the list of desired Bliss-words so these became the main theme for the development during the meeting. During the development work we all noted and felt how useful the Bliss-words can be to explain the different functions of the inner organ systems in a classroom teaching. Very difficult concepts are visualised in simple graphic symbols. The participating teachers in the group were pleased. Other themes worked on were words related to jewellery and holidays. Some time was devoted to discuss the possibilities to adjust Bliss-grammar to the grammar of other languages for educational purposes when teaching literacy. The rules for these adjustments were first discussed at the Montreal meeting, in 2008, when many new indicators were approved.

BCI now has a long list of persons representing many languages who are knowledgeable in the Fundamental Rules of Blissymbolics and are willing to serve as monitors of anything written in Blissymbolics before it is printed to help to avoid unnecessary mistakes. The monitor role was discussed. During the past years the Authorized Vocabulary has gone through an extensive revision. Important new issues of the language have been identified and will be listed as a help for the monitors. All information regarding the monitors will be on the website in a short time. On the last meeting day a BCI organization meeting was held. Sherly Thankappan with husband and Sandra Derbring arrived this day. So did also Lyle Lloyd with PhD student Mick Isaacsson and Bruce Baker who had asked to give short presentations.

First, each country gave a short report on activities in their countries. A growing interest in Blissymbolics in Europe is very obvious from the strong demands on translations of the AV to different languages. Annette was asked to give a workshop in St Petersburg in September.

The discussion about Bliss in AAC and Bliss for wider application in relation to the issues in relation to the leadership of BCIC was related and briefly discussed. In relation to this we came into the two tracks for representing Blissymbols; graphics and font, and the need to maintain and develop both these tracks – graphics to ensure Bliss is continuously and increasingly supported in the most important AAC software environments. From there, the importance of finalizing the Unicode font, and fund-raising for this, was a main issue for discussion.

The conclusion was that we will try hard to combine several parallel tracks for funding, engaging as many as possible in and around BCI, and including all from individual contributions, over smaller funding applications for partial tasks, and to larger applications as we find opportunities for such.

We had a short discussion about our continued work with the BCI Authorized Vocabulary (the BCI-AV) – priorities of different tasks and how to promote them, including:

  • Translations to major languages (complete/partial)

  • Core – Base – Extended – Peripheral vocabulary,

  • Documentation (derivation, explanation – BRG, Supplement + later online)

… and of course the addition of new authorized Bliss-words.

We also talked about the BCI website: The current status, with the move to a new server in Sweden, and the updating of the platform and functionality, etc. Ideas for new content, including taking over and maintaining the content offered from the BCIC's (developed by Fraser Shein and Vivian Tsang et al), and the need for new educational and lexical material. Sandra Derbring, Sweden, is currently working on the BCI website.

Latest news about BlissOnline, AEGIS project results allowing the use of Blissymbols in LibreOffice/OpenOffice Writer, new support for Bliss in other AAC software such as Widgit etc. Bruce Baker presented his proposed taxonomy for graphic AAC. Mick gave a short overview of his research on making Bliss-symbols accessible for people who are blind. Peter Sein told about his development in AAC using his Bliss Strategy in a very efficient way. The next IP meeting was earlier planned to be in South Africa. The group however found the travel costs too high and the distance too long. Instead we will consider Belgium, Italy, Stockholm or Gothenburg for the IP meeting in 2013.


Uppsala, 27/9. With many good memories from the 2012 IP meeting / Margareta Jennische 


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