Breaking the ICE Canada 2017 Conference
Independence Community and Empowerment
October 28 & 29, 2017
Novotel Toronto, North York

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" Breaking the ICE" conference was previously known as the ICE conference where ICE referred to Independence, Community and Empowerment. The name change is intended to better reflect the importance of communication in breaking down barriers and attaining these important goals. 

Breaking the  ICE Canada 2017 Conference
Independence Community and Empowerment
October 28 & 29, 2017
Novotel Toronto, North York
3 Park Home Avenue, North York, Ontario
"Make it Count and Celebrate 150"

Registration Is Now Open

Click to buy tickets March of Dimes Canada - 2015 Conference Host  

Presenters for 2017 will include...

Joseph Spahn-VieiraHello, my name is Joseph Spahn-Vieira. I was born in Toronto, Ontario. On June 9, 2017, I turned 10 years old. I am finishing Grade 4 at St. Brendan C.S. I am honoured to have been asked to speak at the upcoming 2017 Breaking the ICE Conference. I have been using my Vanguard Communication device since I was 2 years old. I am so grateful to the speech pathologists and teachers at Bloorview’s Preschool and School programmes. They helped me find my voice. In my free time I enjoy playing baseball, video games, riding my bike, and playing Volt Hockey. I love to eat, especially pancakes and ribs! I am looking forward to the summer so I will have time to complete a few projects. I am writing a book called “The Tale of the Water”. It’s a mystery but that’s all I’m telling you, you’ll need to wait until it’s finished. I am also in talks with my dad about making a device that will be more accessible for people who want to play video games that involve driving cars and planes. I look forward to chatting with all of you at the Conference.


Tien HoangMy name is Tien Hoang. I am proud to say that I am an AAC user. I have moved to Toronto a few years ago, and I am living my independent life. I want to promote awareness about AAC and the need for accessibility in the community for people with disabilities. I want to educate the public and bring accessibility and equality into the lives of people with disabilities because I want to bring hope to myself, to other people who are in need, and to the children of the future!


Nola Millin Nola is well known in her hometown of Windsor, Ontario, Canada for her activism and her public speaking. Nola is experienced in writing and speaking on various topics related to disability and the use of AAC. She has three degrees; one in Psychology, one in English and Creative Writing, and one in Disability Studies. Nola holds a position with ISAAC International as Editor for our website. Nola is also a sessional college instructor teaching psychology online. In her spare time, Nola can be found at her church where she is quite involved in many activities.


Jess Jessica (Jess) is a long-time AAC user who takes every opportunity to share her experiences, educate others about life as an AAC user and to advocate for those people who rely on AAC for communication. She has a DSW (Developmental Service Worker) diploma from Centennial College in Toronto. She is regularly invited back as a guest speaker to share her experiences about attending and succeeding in a college environment. Her presentations not only encourage students with similar challenges, but also help staff better understand how to accommodate students with disabilities, particularly those with complex communication needs. Jess participates in a project sponsored by March of Dimes Canada called the LIFE (Learning Independence for Future Empowerment) Program. She works with instructors and participants on how to communicate with AAC users as well as how to accommodate participants with disabilities.


Zhade My Name is Zhade. I am a 21 year old human being from Ontario who uses AAC to communicate most clearly. I am building a 'meaningful adult life' now that I am done school. I have had opportunities over the years to speak at events, as community member and AAC embassador using my AAC and helping people understand that I do have things to say. I have a vibrant sense of humour, deeply cherish people who matter to me, and do what I can to be a positive presence in life. Time with my friends matters a lot to me, no matter where my friends are living. Several times we have travelled internationally to spend time with my treasured friends, because friendships are one of the most wonderful things in my life. I try to see the opportunities in life, even when the elephants step on my toes.


Barbara Collier Barbara Collier is a founding member and Executive Director of Communication Disabilities Access Canada (CDAC), a national, non-profit organization that promotes social justice for people with communication disabilities. She has worked as a clinician, educator and researcher and has headed up many socially innovative projects relating to communication accessibility, human rights and social justice for people with communication disabilities. Barbara is currently providing input to the federal government on its emerging national accessibility legislation and is heading up a new national project to make public consultations accessible for people with communication disabilities. She is a member of Ontario’s Access to Healthcare Standards Committee and continues to train and promote the use of Communication intermediaries within the justice system across Canada. In 2010, Barbara was honored as a Fellow of the International Society for Augmentative and Alternative Communication.

“Make it Count and Celebrate 150”
Tentative Schedule
 Saturday October 28, 2017
 8 - 9 Registration
 9 - 10:00 Opening Remarks and Time Capsule Click to download PDF
 10:00 - 10:30 Break
 10:30 - 12:00 Town Hall Meeting Questions
 Make it count
  1. What do you do to make a difference?
  2. Who do you know that has made a difference in your life or other people's lives?
  3. How do you pay it forward? (Random Acts of Kindness)
  4. What would make your life better?
 12:00pm - 1:30pm Lunch break
 1:30pm - 2:30pm Ketnote Speaker
Making Yourself Count - Joseph Spahn- Vieira
 2:30pm - 3:00pm Memorial Service
 3pm- 4pm Break and Time Capsule
 4pm- 5:15pm Panel Presentation
Making Friendships and Relationships Count
- Tien Hoang, Zhade, Jessie Weber
 6-7 Dinner
 7:30 - 9:00 Entertainment - Bliss i-Band
The Bliss i-Band is a Toronto group of 12 members that meets weekly to learn about music and explore group music-making through the use of iPad-based virtual instruments. Each member contributes a unique style to the ensemble music. We are supported by the Lillian Meighen and Don Wright Foundation, the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Arts Council. Through videos and live performances, the group’s Music Director, Aaron Lightstone, will demonstrate how band members provide accompaniment and improvisations with their chosen (virtual) instruments.
 9-11 - DJ and dancing
 Sunday October 29, 2017
 9- 10 Continental Breakfast and Time Capsule Presentations
 10 - 11 Communication Access Rights in Legislation - Barbara Collier
 11 - Head home

About Us

The Breaking the ICE Canada conference is an event created by and for individuals who use Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and their families.

This conference is the first event of its kind in Canada and was designed to bring the community of people who use AAC together to share ideas, learn from each other, and create new friendships.

Breaking the ICE Canada was inspired by the Pittsburgh Employment Conference a consumer centred conference for augmented communicators. It has proven itself to be a powerful force for change and a source of empowerment for an often marginalized group.

The Breaking the ICE conference committee includes individuals who use AAC, members of March of Dimes Canada, and clinicians from Ontario's AAC centres.

The committee is made up of various subcommittees and includes the following dedicated individuals:

Alan Sunisloe                Donna Mackay           
Gemma Woticky Gordana Skrba
Gerry Schram Nora Rothschild
Iain Wallace Roslyn Irvine
Laurel Robinson Nola Millin
Alexis Dickson Verna Chan
Eva Miodonski Tracy Shepherd