Transcript: IASSIDD 2019 Conference

Michael McEwan speaks to Linda Mitchell from the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability (SCLD).

Podcast Episode: IASSIDD 2019 Conference

Category: Disability 



What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.

MM - Michael McEwan
LM - Linda Mitchell

MM On this podcast we hear about a World Congress coming to Glasgow called the IASSSID Congress, from 6-9 August. So, I went to interview Linda Mitchell, Linda works for the Scottish Commission for Learning Disabilities and is on the local organising committee for the congress. So, Linda can you give us an overview of the whole event?

LM I can Michael. So, the IASSIDD World Congress happens every 3 years and IASSIDD stands for the International Association for the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. So, probably you can understand why we shorten it to IASSIDD, it makes it much easier. Basically, the World Congress is where researchers all come together who are involved in international research in the field of learning disability. So, we are going to have people from all over the world attending and that will be people like researchers, but it will also be people with a learning disability and their families and other people who are interested. IASSIDD’s main mission is to promote the development of new knowledge and then to use that knowledge in a really practical way to make life better for people with a learning disability, that’s the ultimate aim of the IASSIDD World Congress. This year it’s coming to Glasgow, to the Scottish Exhibition Campus. This is the first time it’s ever come to Glasgow, which is a real coup for us, great for Glasgow, great for Scotland and great for the UK. The congress proper starts on Tuesday 6th August and goes on till Friday 9th August. I can give you an idea on some of the topics that will be part of the congress. So, we have got 13 special interest groups and our researchers have submitted abstracts linked to all of these topics. So, there is going to be lots of information on things like ageing, autism spectrum disorder, challenging behaviour and mental health, on downs syndrome, policy and practice has to be in there, there will be information around families, around inclusive education, we will have researchers who are involved in research around parents with learning disabilities, we will have researchers who are interested in physical health and in profound and multiple disabilities and there will be lots of talks around quality of life and then there will be a few other things thrown in there that don’t neatly fit into those categories. So, there is going to be a whole breadth of information to be shared at the congress.

MM So, you’re on the local organisation committee. So, what does that involve and who is on the committee?

LM What does it involve, Michael? It involves lots of work, that’s what it involves. So, the local organising committee, we are the group of people who are on the ground here in Scotland and we work very closely with the international committee and that’s from people all across the world, I will tell you a little bit about them in a second, but our job here is to make the congress a great experience for everybody who is attending and that includes people with a learning disability and their families and we have got the local knowledge and we know all the people in Scotland to bring together to make that happen. So, that’s really what we are about, but really importantly, the local organising committee is about including people with a learning disability in the congress here in Glasgow, and that’s 1 of the main aims that local organising committee has. Who is involved was 1 of your questions, so the local organising committee is made up of about 6 people, Professor Andrew Jahoda from Glasgow University, Andrew is a professor of learning disabilities, Professor Anna Cooper who until recently headed up the Scottish Learning Disabilities Observatory, so Anna is a key member of the local organising committee. We also have Doctor Janet Finlayson, Janet is from Glasgow Caledonian University, Doctor Ken McMahon and Ken works now down in NHS Ayrshire and Arran, and we have Suzanne Kinross from Scottish government who is supporting the local organising committee as well. So, it’s a bit of a mix of professors and academics to people like myself who are hands on, making it happen. I also probably need to mention 2 other colleagues, Louise Watson and Berwick Grendall who work for In Conference and they are a professional conference organisation and Louise and Berwick keep our local organising committee right and have been a great support and help to us because this is a big job, we are expecting somewhere around 1200 to 1500 international delegates to this congress, so there is a lot to do in the run up.

MM I was going to say, do you not feel a bit left out because you are not a professor?

LM Now I need to think about how I answer this because, yes, when I was asked to join the local organising committee and I looked at my esteemed colleagues, but then once I got round the table I actually thought, no they need somebody from the commission who is linked to people with a learning disability, that’s really important, so I felt a little bit better about that and I think if you asked any of my colleagues here, I love nothing better than getting organised.

MM So, this is the 16th year and, as you say, it’s brilliant that the congress is coming to Glasgow. So, quite simply, why Glasgow?

LM Well I suppose, why not Glasgow Michael? We’ve got so much to offer as a city and Scotland as a country, but I know Andrew and Anna work really hard to bring the congress to Scotland and it is a bit of kudos for the UK because it’s the first time the congress has come to Scotland and I think Glasgow, as a city, is a gateway to the rest of Scotland so I think it’s going to be a great venue and the Scottish Exhibition Campus has won lots of accolades about being a great place to hold a congress, so I think it will work well.

MM Every so often when the congress is on you pick a theme and I suppose it was up to the organising committee to pick the theme of the 1 for Future4All, so I suppose that says a lot about future (… unclear) again all walks of life, but why did you pick this theme? Why did you think it was important to have this?

LM Well I think the whole local organising committee thought it was really, really important because we are bringing researchers from all corners of the globe together here who are interested in the whole lives of people with a learning disability and I think so many people collaborate and talk together and share ideas and knowledge and the topics covered from birth to old age. It’s for everybody and it’s everybody’s future and we felt when we looked at the range of things that people were going to be submitting abstracts on, we just thought this is everybody’s future and it should be a future for all. Now, that’s not to say that everybody has a glowing future, because we know for so many people with a learning disability that might not be the case, but 1 of the things that the congress and the spirit of the congress is that by having Future4Alll, because I think our hope is that having a congress in Glasgow, that this will make a difference to the lives of people with a learning disability. All this research that’s done needs to lead to practical change for people. Having the congress in Glasgow, we hope, will make a difference, not only to people with a learning disability in Glasgow and in Scotland and the UK, but in the wider world. So, there are particular interest host workshop topics. The congress is, I think, probably 1 of the times where all these people who are involved in research around learning disability get together in 1 location, so we want to make the most of that time together to share and collaborate. So, the academy workshops are really to bring people together around areas of special interest. The workshops are either half a day or a full day and the topics are quite wide ranging, from parenting to things like conversational analysis, to weight loss, to end of life. So, it’s quite a breadth of topics that are covered through the academy workshops and people can sign up for these on the IASSIDD website as well, I will share those details. So, it’s a fully jam-packed program.

MM Then when you go on to the actual conference, tell us about the program, just a wee bit about it, because I know that looking at their program you’ve got a massive program, but also your social program as well.

LM Yeh you are right, we have a jam-packed program. So, there is all the serious research information that will be shared. We have 937 oral presentations across the congress, 393 of those that are linked to symposia, we are going to have 261 posters that will be presented and there will be 35 round table events. So, that is a jam-packed program for us, but importantly, people with learning disabilities are involved in delivering some of this research as co-researchers and that’s really important to stress. All the serious research, the heavy stuff, but I mentioned earlier that this is all linked to practice, so there will be something in the congress for everybody, but we need to have a wee bit of fun along the way, so there are some great things happening. We are going to have the opening ceremony in the Clyde Auditorium and the Civic Reception is going to be held in the Science Centre. We are going to have a Scottish feel for that, in that we are going to get Dundee City Pipe Band are going to pipe our delegates from the auditorium across to the science centre. We are going to have exhibitors as well at the congress and, importantly, many of our exhibitors are social enterprises that involve people with a learning disability. So, that will be great and, again, I’m sure some of our exhibitors have a bit of a Scottish theme that will hopefully please our international delegates. They are going to have a public lecture as well, on the Wednesday evening, and that’s open to the public and we will be advertising that shortly as well as people who are coming to the congress, because we want to engage with our wider community as well and it’s going to be called the Art of the Possible, a real Future4All and we are wanting some discussion about what’s needed to allow people with a learning disability to reach their full potential with our communities. So, we’ve got a fun run as well that my colleague, Ken McMahon, has been organising. I know that it’s already full at this stage, so it’s proved really, really popular.

MM Let’s hope the weather is ok.

LM Yes, we are going to say a wee prayer for that I think. We are going to have a congress dinner at Kelvingrove Art Gallery, and that’s going to have a ceilidh and the ceilidh is going to be supported by some dancers with learning disabilities who are going to be showcasing some of our great ceilidh dances so that all our delegates can take part. We are going to have ambassadors who are all going to be people with a learning disability who are going to be helping us meet and greet people and give directions and be part of it. We are really, really keen that we include people with learning disabilities as much as we can and that we put a bit of investment back into local communities, so we are outsourcing a lot of things, like the packing of the bags to a social enterprise, and then folks are going to be involved at registration, meeting and greeting our delegates with their conference bags and things.

MM Sounds good, a lot of work.

LM It’s an awful lot of work and we want people to have a great experience, so over lunchtime we’ve got some great workshops that are happening with things like dance, music, sensory storytelling, drumming and piping, so there hopefully is something for everybody.

MM So, how can people register for this event?

LM Well you can register on the IASSIDD website and that address is and the early bird registration is open until 10th June, so get in early.

MM Thanks Linda, good luck with the event.

LM Thank you Michael.

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