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On 28th June 2013, 70 plus people came together for a special conference at the University of Birmingham celebrating 25 years of the PMLD Link Journal.

After the conference had been opened by Dr Penny Lacey (Chairman of the PMLD Link charity and a member of the journals editorial team), Professor Barry Carpenter, OBE, talked about the journals genesis as a simple newsletter produced by the Blythe School in Coleshill where he was Head Teacher to facilitate networking following on from a 1987 conference at Westhill College, Birmingham on the education of children and young people with PMLD.

PMLD Link - Sharing ideas and information

The main speaker was Dr Dave Hewett who delivered an entertaining and thought-provoking presentation on Intensive Interaction illustrated by some remarkable video of interactions between young people with PMLD and their supporters. Dave covered the importance of ‘phatic communion’ stressing that communication is not just about making requests and having these satisfied.

Other speakers at the conference included Penny Lacey who spoke about a range of developments (teaching approaches, materials, ICT, communication aids, etc) in the education of pupils with PMLD some of which simply are not being explored enough in schools and Beverly Dawkins, OBE, from MENCAP who presented details about a new series of publications called “Raising Ours Sights Guides” produced to counter the prejudice, discrimination and low expectations faced by people with PMLD  (downloadable from the MENCAP).

The audience at the celebratory event for 25 years of the PMLD Link publication

There were further thought provoking presentations from Helen Daley; Annie Fergusson; Christina Tilstone; Loretto Lambe; Jean Boucher; Jeanne Carlin; Rob Ashdown; Wendy Newby; Lesley Barcham and Carol Ouvry. As Carol is now retiring from her PMLD Link work, she was presented with a gift of gardening vouchers and a specimen of a new strain of a yellow rose now named “PMLD Link”.

Celebrations of the 25th anniversary of PMLD Link will continue during 2013 with two forthcoming issues: in the Summer on the human rights of people with PMLD and in the Winter on ‘well-being’. This conference was an excellent and enjoyable celebration of the hard work and contributions of the very many people who have made the journal such a success. 

The conference was hosted by the Department of Disability, Inclusion and Special Needs within the School of Education.