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Two PhD Doctors Who Use AAC discuss their experiences of Life Long Learning

  • 26 Sep 2023
  • 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM (AEST)
  • Online via Zoom


Two PhD Doctors Who Use AAC discuss their experiences of Life Long Learning

Presented by

Dr Darryl Sellwood and Dr Melinda Smith


Webinar Overview

Back by popular demand:

Following an overwhelmingly positive reception at the AGOSCI conference in Hobart in 2022, Dr Darryl Sellwood and Dr Melinda Smith will be hosting a reprise showing of their presentation, “Doctor Doctor - Two PhD Doctors who use AAC discuss their experiences of lifelong learning” as a live AGOSCI webinar. There will be a live Q&A session after the pre-recorded presentation.

All the way from pre-school to PhD, the Australian education system is a challenging environment for students who use AAC. Although AAC strategies can be an important element to facilitate the academic and social participation of students with complex communication needs, the attitudes of parents, teachers, lecturers and peers can have a significant impact on a student’s success. In higher education settings, students with disabilities can face additional academic and social challenges when completing their studies in comparison to their abledbodied peers. Even the systems designed to support a disabled person’s participation can introduce further obstacles that need to be navigated. Fortunately, for the two co-presenters of this session, the emergence of the AAC field and the increase in educational opportunities for people with disabilities coincided with their own formative educational experiences.  

Drs Smith and Sellwood both have complex communication needs. They will discuss their educational journey from early childhood, through to being awarded their doctorates. The conversation will creatively explore the historical and contemporary landscape of education for people with disabilities, and hopes to challenge beliefs. Hailing from different cities in Australia, the individual barriers and facilitators encountered at each stage of their lives will entwine to reveal the unlikely symphony of events that lead to them earning doctorates. 

The presenters are known throughout Australia and internationally as creative and engaging speakers who present thought-provoking ideas. Preferably over a glass of wine.

So grab yourself a glass of something nice and join the conversation.


Dr Darryl Sellwood

Darryl Sellwood completed his PhD in 2019 at Flinders University and was awarded the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Doctoral Thesis Excellence. His PhD research investigated the experiences of people with complex communication needs in getting into and keeping romantic or sexual relationships. Darryl has complex communication needs and uses an AAC device. As a computer science graduate with experience in the telecommunications field, he has a broad perspective on both user and technical issues. He graduated with first class Honours in a Bachelor of Art researching telecommunications access for people who rely on Augmentative and Alternative Communication. An incisive and provocative thinker and an engaging speaker, Darryl has presented numerous conference papers and keynote addresses at both Australian and international conferences. He currently works part time as a Scholarly Fellow at Flinders University reviewing curriculum in the Disability Studies discipline. His recent post-doctoral research project was investigating the lived experiences adults with disabilities had during the COVID-19 pandemic who receive support from the NDIS to live in shared or independent accommodation.

Dr Melinda Smith

Dr Melinda Smith is an Artist, Public Speaker and Professional Mentor, and has many years of lived experiences under her hat.  Under those titles, Melinda has many others things that she does, for example Melinda lectures at Deakin University, with the Disability Inclusion Team, for the masters and post graduate courses. In 2019, Dr Smith was awarded an Honorary Doctorate for her work in the disability and education industries. Most of Melinda's work has been tailored around her personal experiences, and storytelling methods. Melinda believe this is what people with and without disabilities, appreciate from her and her life journey.   Melinda's work as a professional mentor is strong, and has been that way for many years. Melinda is particularly interested in working with people who have little or no speech, and require more time and fairness to communicate. Often these people are left behind, and not being listened to. Melinda has a commitment to support these people in every way she can. Melinda has lived through these experiences, in every aspect of her life. Making time to communicate, is also making time to participate. Melinda has interest and experience in the Arts, and that is a huge part of what she does. Melinda lives and breathes communication issues and barriers that come up, in accessing the Arts. Melinda also helps promote the physical, emotional and sensory access that goes into an art practice, or residential space. In her work, Melinda likes to lead by being a participator. If Melinda doesn’t have time to participate, and communicate with people who she supports, then this shows her that things are not working. But if Melinda can be a role model on the way, or support others to role model to others, then she feels satisfied her job is working. 

Webinar Details

This is a LIVE 60 minute webinar.

There will be time for questions to the presenters.

A recording will be available to view afterwards for 6 months.

Start times

QLD / NSW / ACT / VIC / TAS: 7pm

SA / NT: 6:30pm

WA: 5pm


AGOSCI is grateful to Dr Sellwood and Dr Smith for presenting their 2019 AGOSCI conference webinar again for our audience. 

AGOSCI is an independent body and does not endorse individual products or brands.

AGOSCI acknowledges the presence and contributions of all suppliers and resources available in the Australian and International AAC marketplace.

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