Tag Archives: communication

My tips for ending awkward dating moments

Guest post from Phil Lusted, a web and graphic designer from north Wales.

For End the Awkward, he talks about awkwardness when it comes to dating and sex and gives some tips for getting over it.

When I was born, I was diagnosed with a rare form of dwarfism called diastrophic dysplaysia which means my bones don’t grow like an average height person would. Being only 3ft in height, I have come across many awkward moments in my life, one of the most common is being mistaken for a child or spoken to like a child.

Everyone wants to be loved unconditionally. This includes those who have visible or invisible disabilities. We are still human, with feelings just like any other able-bodied person. Unfortunately, for disabled people, dating can involve uncertainty and more than a few awkward moments. Like the time a waitress asked my date if I needed a high chair before we got to our table. Needless to say, I did not.

My tips for dating

A first date can be nervous for any person, some thoughts that would typically run through my head would be: “What will she think of me and my height?” “Will she think I’m a weird shape?” “What if she feels embarrassed around me?”. It is perfectly normal for us to think like this, we all do it no matter what size or shape we are, it’s all part of being human and how our brain works when in a nervous or first time situation.

To help avoid awkward situations with your date, don’t be ashamed to educate them on your disability before actually going on the date. Tell them any needs you may have or any assistance you may need while on the date, this will put yourself and your date more at ease, you will both be pretty much on the same page with her or him knowing more about your disability and needs.

I knew my girlfriend three months prior to our first date which gave her plenty of time to learn about myself and my dwarfism, which resulted in our first date being comfortable for the both of us, that way we could enjoy our time together without any awkward situations taking place.

Phil and his girlfriend hugging and smiling, on a wooden bench with trees in the background

Sex and confidence

A lot of nervousness may also be from your own body confidence; I know this from my own experience. Because I was born with severe scoliosis, my back and chest are a funny shape which has in the past affected my confidence. Something as simple as taking my shirt off in a public swimming pool would never happen.

It’s important to be confident in yourself by not being ashamed of your appearance, at the end of the day, we all come in different shapes and sizes, it’s something we should embrace and be positive about. Life would be a little boring if we all looked the same. Also keep in mind that if your partner loves you unconditionally, then you have nothing to fear or feel awkward about when it comes to showing your body.

Communication is important

One of the biggest issues caused by feeling awkward or embarrassed is a lack of communication. Despite sex being considered a “private” or “taboo” subject, all relationships require communication and dialog. I think being open with your partner is very important, especially as disabled people.

Talk with your partner about sex and discover what’s best for the both of you to avoid having close-minded expectations. Remember that not everything works with every partner, so it is important to be patient with one another.

The more you talk to one another the less chances you will feel uncomfortable and awkward when it comes to being intimate together.

You can read more about Phil’s awkward moments in his blog for last year’s End the Awkward campaign.

For more tips on sex and dating, check out the films and stories on our website.

“Just because I can’t speak doesn’t mean I have nothing to say”

October is International Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) awareness month. As Hilary Gardner from Communication Matters explains, there are many ways of communicating, not just with words.

Humans are great at communication. You might think I mean talking, but we communicate with our whole bodies – our hands, our eyes, our faces. We certainly know when someone is angry or happy without them needing to say! Of course, words are very powerful tools too, and we all enjoy a good story, whether it is read out of a book or spoken. Some people use very long sentences and others use single words that give just enough information.

There are many reasons why people cannot speak. They may never have developed the ability to speak out loud or they may have lost the ability to speak due to an illness or accident. However, they will have understanding of language ‘in their head’ – even if they can’t speak the words. It is important that we include everyone in a conversation and give everyone a chance to express themselves. Luckily there are other ways of communicating with words, not just talking.

Alternative means of communication

“Just because I can’t speak doesn’t mean I haven’t anything to say” is a thought expressed by many people who use AAC – augmentative and alternative means of communication. Sign systems, such as Makaton and British Sign Language can be used with people from a very young age. There are picture and symbol systems that can be presented on their own or in books and on communication boards.

Boy using AACMore and more these days, children and adults are using electronic communication aids however. There are complex computer systems that enable those with physical restrictions to compose sentences. More recently simple ipad apps will have grid displays of a series of pictures or written words that will speak when touched. For those who don’t have good control over their hands they can use eye gaze and switch equipment to control the picture selection.

Communicating is about talking with one another. The important thing to remember is don’t be anxious about talking with someone who uses AAC. The key is to talk to the person, not the device and leave time for people using AAC to form a message, as the AAC device is slower than when we speak.

We are delighted to have two trustees from Communication Matters answering your questions on our online community this week, so please do drop them a line!

Also, check out these great tips for communicating with people who have no speech, which have all been contributed by members of our online community.

For further information about Communication Matters, please visit their website.

Disability Innovations: Talkitt app helps disabled people use their voice

Disability Innovations is a blog series that gathers some of the most interesting new products and services that aim to make disabled people’s lives easier. We hope it will inspire more innovation in the disability field.

What is Talkitt?

Talkitt is a voice to voice app which aims to enable people with motor, speech, and language conditions to communicate freely and easily using their own voice. It works by interpreting an individual’s pronunciation of words into understandable speech. Talkitt recognises the user’s vocal patterns, translates words from any language and then speaks them aloud via an app.

Approximately 1.5% of the population in the western world has some form of difficulty communicating as a result of medical conditions including: Motor Neurone Disease, Cerebral Palsy, Stroke, Brain Damage and Autism. Current communication solutions include using eye and head tracking systems or using other body movements, but none of these enable the user to really communicate in the traditional sense, by using their voice. What makes Talkitt different is that it does not rely on expensive technology, simply a smartphone app and the user’s own voice. Talkitt wants to help increase participation in everyday activities, particularly when out and about and communicating with new people.

What’s behind the idea?

Talkitt’s Chief Executive (CEO) Danny Weissberg came up with the idea in Israel back in 2012 after his grandmother had a stroke that severely impaired her speech. As a software engineer himself, Danny wanted to come up with a solution to help his grandmother. The more he explored the issue and spoke to speech and occupational therapists about it, the more he was convinced that there was a need for this sort of solution.

In 2012 Voiceitt, the company behind Talkitt was launched as a joint venture between software engineers, technology officers and senior Occupational Therapists (OTs) to combine their technology background with the OTs experience and user insight. Inspired by Danny’s grandmother and working to use “technology for good”, Talkitt hopes to break down barriers between disabled people and their communities, and enable them to communicate and participate fully.

How does it actually work?

Talkitt is not your standard speech recognition app. The software works by creating a dictionary of sounds and their meanings, learning each individual’s way of speaking. First the user has to go through the calibration stage. This is when the app learns the user’s speech patterns by getting them to record a selection of set words and phrases dependent on their cognitive ability to create their personal dictionary. This dictionary helps the system to map what a person is saying to enable an accurate and personalised interpretation. Then the user can move on to the recognition stage where the app is able to interpret their individual pronunciation of words. The user speaks a word, it is associated with a word on the software, and the app speaks the interpretation. For example, the app can recognise the pronunciation of “o-ko-la” and the software will translate it to “chocolate”.

Diagram-of-how-talkitt-works

In techno terms, the approach is based on robust multi-domain signal processing, and an appropriate pruning of dynamic voice pattern classifier search space. Talkitt uses a smart system which uses machine learning so that the system continues to learn adaptively with the user over time to build and enhance the user’s personal dictionary. As the system is not language dependent but speaker dependent, there are no language restrictions as it works based on pattern recognition software. As it interprets vocal patterns, it can even interpret made up words or phrases such as an autistic child may use to communicate. Talkitt hopes that future developments will also enable the app to be used for degenerative conditions, by recording the user’s own voice to use later.

What’s next for Talkitt?

Talkitt is not yet on the market and is currently under development. They are testing the first release with users, working in partnership with disability charities across the globe. They are also in the process of collecting as many audio recordings as possible to help populate their audio recording database and inform the algorithm they are developing. The aim is to release a version one in early 2016. This will be a basic version of the system with a limited vocabulary for the user’s personal dictionary and will be able to interpret a few calibrated words. Version two is due to be released in 2017 and will incorporate the adaptive learning (without calibration) and continuous speech features as well as having an extended vocabulary.

Once released, Talkitt will run on a ‘freemium model’ with an initial period after the launch where it will be available for anyone to download for free. After that it will run on a monthly subscription fee of $20, around £12. The software can currently run on tablets and smartphones, but eventually they hope to offer it for wearable devices including smart watches and Google Glass. They also hope to integrate it into other devices such as a wearable necklace or wheelchair and browsers. Using this technology that is not currently found in mainstream speech engines to improve existing speech recognition technology. Ultimately, they hope that the data their app will gather in their speech database will help medical research centres and universities to further their research and understanding into neurological and cognitive diseases.

Talkitt has had many successes to date, including running a successful crowdfunding campaign which secured $87,000 (around £55,000) of funding to continue development and testing. They have also won some prestigious awards and competitions, including the Philips Innovation Fellows and Verizon Powerful Answers Competition, the Wall Street Journal Startup Showcase, Deutsche Telekom Innovation Contest and the Orange 4G Innovation Lab, to name but a few!

Why we love it!

What makes Talkitt really special is that unlike existing alternatives, it is a form of alternative communication that is based fully on the user’s voice. Everyone should have the chance to communicate in a natural way, and Talkitt aims to enable traditional communication using a person’s voice in a truly personalised way that’s not offered by text to speech systems. Talkitt will also offer an inexpensive alternative to traditional communication devices, and can cut waiting times as it can be downloaded instantly. The future looks bright for Talkitt, and we’re excited to see how this venture develops!

This blog is for information only. Scope does not endorse this product or service. We try to make sure our information is up to date and accurate at the time of publishing.

To tell us about a Disability Innovation, please email innovation@scope.org.uk

The lives of 100 disabled people and their families – #100days100stories

Leading up to today’s General Election, we wanted to get politicians thinking differently about disability.

So for the last 100 days we’ve shared 100 compelling, moving and at times, shocking stories from disabled people and their families.

We’ve worked with our story-tellers to share their stories with their local candidates – reminding politicians of the big and varied issues disabled people are facing.

No ‘typical disability story’

Young disabled woman modelling a white dress, sitting in a wheelchair in a garden
Disabled model Hayley-Eszti.

Disabled lawyers, actors, models, travel writers, campaigners, entrepreneurs and politicians are among the 100 who have shared their stories.

We’ve heard about people’s attitudes, volunteering, communication aids, finding work, going to festivals, hate crime and what it’s like getting older.

We’ve also heard stories about hearing dogs, working with disabled people in the community and fostering.

Parents, sport and young people

Parents have shared their stories about communicating with their disabled children, juggling their jobs with looking after their kids, what it’s like spending a lot of time in hospital and the importance of peer support.

Sport and fitness has played a big part in many people’s stories – we’ve heard stories about wheelchair fitness, cycling, the Paralympics, golf and marathons.

From prison to the Paralympics: Craig shared his story
From prison to the Paralympics: Craig shared his story

And young people like Holly, Felix, Chloe and Nathan have shared their stories about their lives, aspirations and the challenges they’re facing. And young disabled campaigner Charlie told us what he would do if he was Prime Minister.

An overwhelming response

In the last 100 days we’ve had about 140,000 views of our story blogs and films, a huge increase from our usual blog and film viewings.

Our most popular story of the whole campaign was Carol’s, about life with an invisible impairment, followed closely by Alexandra’s story about being offered a termination while pregnant, and Jean’s story about getting a job with the bus company she made a complaint to.

Woman with glasses smiling
Carol’s story was the most popular of the campaign

We’ve had an overwhelming response to the stories on social media – nearly 60,000 people have liked, clicked, commented or shared the stories on Facebook and the hash tag #100days100stories has been tweeted more than 1,000 times just in the last month.

One Facebook supporter wrote: “This series is just brilliant. I have used several of the blogs as part of my MA research project. Keep sharing stories everyone. People need to hear them.”

In an article about charities’ pre-election campaigns, The Guardian wrote “we’ve especially liked how Scope has put its service users at the front of the campaign and enabled them to tell their story in their own words”.

girl smiling and holding a cat
Anna shares her story of countless hospital visits with her daughter Scarlett

Getting political

The campaign has allowed our story-tellers to connect with politicians in a very direct and personal way.

There have been some great responses to people who have taken part in the campaign from existing MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates. Hearing directly from constituents always resonates far more with both of these groups.

Today’s the day to have your voice heard

Woman sitting in a wheelchair, with a grey carigan and short dark hair, smiling at the camera
Rosemary urges disabled people to vote

Scope challenges politicians of all parties to improve the lives of disabled people – just as we have always done.

We’re calling on the next Government to raise disabled people’s living standards by supporting more disabled people into work; addressing the extra costs of disability and improving the support disabled people get to live independently.

It’s really important that politicians hear from disabled people – as Rosemary explains in her story. So today’s the day – go out, vote and have your voice heard!

Find out more about Scope’s priorities for 2015.

Take a look at all the stories we’ve shared during our 100 days, 100 stories campaign

I’m passionate about helping people who don’t have a voice – #100days100stories

Anthony talks about how Scope supported him toward his ambition of working to support disabled people. He shares his story as part of our 100 days, 100 stories campaign.

My passion

When I was five years old I met a young boy at school who was severely disabled. He didn’t walk, talk and couldn’t sit up. It made me feel sad that he couldn’t get involved and play with all the other children. He used to lie on the floor and I wanted to lie down beside him. I went home one day crying because I worried about him. My mum asked what was wrong. I told her I was sad about my school friend. Ever since the first day I met my school friend I have wanted to help severely disabled people.

At my secondary school, there was a boy with a profound speech impairment. Teachers used to call me to help interpret. The teachers all said how good I was at helping others. When I got a little older I met my best mate who also had a speech impairment. I’ve known him now for nearly forty years and I have been his voice many times.

My passion is to help severely disabled people. This is why advocacy is very important to me. Too many times, I’ve seen people without a voice left in a corner and forgotten about. It is people like this that need advocates. This is why I am doing my advocacy course, to help give other people the chance they deserve.

What has been the greatest hurdle you had to overcome?

The greatest hurdle is to tell people what I really want; to get people to believe me. They say to me how can you do it when you need so much support? You are disabled yourself, how can you help other people? But I can help people exactly because I am disabled and I know what it feels like. I feel their frustrations and understand their difficulties.

The breakthrough came when I came to Scope. Scope saw my talents in helping people. Then I met my fiancée at Scope and another lady at my service who needed support. This made me more determined to help people.

Qualifications

I was at home one day when an assessor for one of the staff members came in and I had an idea. I asked her if I could do a course in advocacy. She searched for me and said I could do a unit on Advocacy or an NVQ2 in Health and Social Care and choose units in Advocacy.

The assessor was almost sure that the college would provide funding. Unfortunately she came back and said the college would only provide funding for someone who is employed for at least 30 hours a week and will continue to work after the training. Sadly my volunteering did not count.

So my key worker and team coordinator began to look for funding. One of the people they contacted was my care manager at Richmond Council. We had a couple of meetings with my care manager from Richmond Council. They presented my case several times and all the evidence they had gathered about my volunteering and the work I have done to improve outcomes for disabled people.

Richmond Council eventually agreed to pay for the training. It means I am on my way to achieving my lifetime goal; to help give disabled people the voice they never had.

I want to say a big thank you to my mum, my family for believing in me, to my local authority and Scope for giving me this opportunity, supporting me and believing that I can do it.

Find out more about 100 days, 100 stories, and read the rest of the stories so far.

Top tips for including your deaf friends or colleagues in conversation

Guest post from Vicki Kirwin. Development Manager for Audiology and Health at the National Deaf Children’s Society.

This week (19 – 25 May) is Deaf Awareness Week and it provides us with an extra opportunity to highlight the importance of good communication. Scope’s End The Awkward campaign is also a brilliant platform to raise awareness of the issues many disabled people face on a daily basis.

Thousands of deaf teenagers have told the National Deaf Children’s Society that improving their friends’ understanding of deafness and finding ways to communicate is really important to them.

There are 45,000 deaf children and young people in the UK and many go to a mainstream school where very often they are the only deaf person in that school. This means some of their classmates don’t know how to communicate with deaf children. More than three in four teenagers who have not met a deaf person told us they have no idea how to start a conversation with a deaf child or young person. These communication barriers can make socialising and school life tough for some deaf young people.

A couple of years ago we worked with deaf young people to produce our Look, Smile, Chat Campaign, to help deaf and hearing teenagers communicate with each other. We produced lots of great resources and you can find these at the link below. The best part is that, just as End The Awkward highlights, a small change to the way you communicate with a deaf person can make a really big difference.

Our top tips for helping to include your deaf friends or colleagues in conversation are:

  • Remember to include deaf people in your conversation
  • Make sure the person you are talking to knows what you are talking about
  • Face the person when you are talking to them and stay still so that a deaf person can lip-read you
  • Talk normally, not slowly
  • If you’re in a group, talk one at a time
  • Be creative with your communication. There are lots of ways to chat, you could write it down or text for instance

We all like to communicate and join in conversations, so this week get involved in Deaf Awareness Week and help break down the communication barriers that many deaf people experience every day. You too can End The Awkward.

Visit Look Smile Chat for further information and resources.

Find out more about Ending the awkward at work.

Using Windows-based tablets as assistive technology

Guest post from Trevor Mobbs, Assistive Technologist at Beaumont College. 

Scope’s Beaumont College offers both residential and non-residential programmes for young disabled people, all of whom are between the ages of 19-25 years.

Hand selecting a TV channel to watch on a touch screen

In recent years, the College has attracted an increasing number of learners with complex needs and those on the autistic spectrum.  As an Assistive Technologist, it is my role to provide bespoke solutions for individual students to access IT and communication technology. This includes assessment, provision, training and on-going support for students, tutors and support staff.

Over recent years, the use of mainstream tablet computers as assistive technology has increased significantly and many of our learners are now benefitted from this mobile technology.  The solutions which we provide are tailored for the individual, and so therefore we do not standardise on one particular operating system.  We have many students using iPads (in similar ways to those described in Margie Woodward’s excellent blog post), but they are not necessarily the most suitable devices for everyone.  Here I will attempt to illustrate why Windows based tablets can be a better alternative for some.

Choice of input methods

Hand using a special keyboard

The standard USB port on a Windows tablet enables any kind of input device to be used.  This includes head mouse, eye gaze, switch, joystick, rollerball, high contrast keyboard etc etc.  Most of these are either not possible or have severe limitations on an iPad.  Having this full range of access methods available is a key benefit of a Windows based device.

Special access software

Screenshot of Grid 2 - special communication software

Having access to software packages like the industry leading Grid 2 software on a Windows tablet means that individual solutions can be created for communication, environmental control, social networking, office productivity etc.  The software available is more powerful and fully featured than the cut down or ‘lite’ versions which are available as apps (e.g. GridPlayer, Clicker Docs).

Accessibility of the operating system

Screenshot of access features in Windows

Even without any additional software, Windows has many in-built accessibility features via the “Ease of Access Center” such as a magnifier, voice recognition, on screen keyboard, high contrast colour schemes, text to speech etc.

Networking

A Windows tablet can be joined to an enterprise network, and thus configured and managed in exactly the same way as any other computer.  This means that our students can access their documents and email on the device, and more importantly all their customised settings will be applied whether they log on to their tablet or a desktop computer.  They thus have a unified user experience, irrespective of which device they are using at a given time.

Computing power

With recent advances in hardware, Windows tablets such as the Microsoft Surface Pro are now available which have as much computing power as their desktop counterparts.  This means that multitasking or more demanding applications such as games or video editing are now possible.

“Instant On”

Waiting for a Windows computer to boot up used to be a frustration, and perhaps an argument for using an alternative such as an iPad.  However with a combination of the software improvements in Windows 8 and the speed boost brought by solid state hard drives (SSDs), the time taken to start up a Windows tablet can now be measured in seconds rather than minutes.

Case study: Dominique

Dominque using a computer attached to her wheelchair

Dominique has moved from using a specialised dedicated communication aid which was very costly and somewhat limited in computing power, to a wheelchair mounted mainstream tablet (or “Wheeltop” as we like to call them!).  The tablet is a £700 Microsoft Surface Pro which meets her needs for communication (using Grid 2 software), web browsing, listening to music, social networking, Skype, environmental controls or anything else she fancies.  The next step is for her to trial an “iPortal” controller which will allow her to control the tablet with her wheelchair controller and eliminate the need for an additional joystick.

People like me should have a voice #BornRisky

Guest post from Kate Caryer. Kate is one of five people with communication difficulties who have joined Channel 4’s continuity team this December, to introduce some of the channel’s biggest shows.

Along with brain surgery, bar maiding and ballet dancing, continuity announcing was a career I had never considered suitable for me, as a person with athetoid cerebral palsy and no speech.   However, along with four colleagues-turned-mates, each with different communication impairments, I’ve joined Channel 4’s continuity announcers for 10 days in December!

To get some idea what I am on about, watch me here introducing my all time favourite show, The Simpsons:

I am on a mission to tell the world that people like me should have a voice! Being a continuity announcer fits right in with this aim I think!

So how did the Channel 4 thing come up? Well, I entered a singing competition!!!

As I can’t speak, let alone sing, I was told to go away!  So I decided to give this continuity announcing lark a try!  (Only joking.)

Actually what occurred is that the clever minds who came up with the idea of having voices from people with different communication difficulties announcing their peak-time shows, contacted organisations and charities that work with such people. This included Communication Matters, which is an organisation that is about AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) – or other means of communicating for people without clear speech. They share my passion for greater awareness of communication aids and non-speech communication.

The chairwoman contacted me about this possible opportunity and I absolutely loved the concept!!  (I would love the idea even if I wasn’t involved!)  

I was asked to do a screen test at Channel 4 in September which was really exciting! Due to the uncertainty of the project (at this stage, it was just a good idea) I was sworn to secrecy.   I wanted to tell absolutely everyone, especially the people at the Communication Matters conference in September that I attended just a matter of days before I went to Channel 4 for the first time!

By coincidence, at that Conference I delivered a presentation and discussion on the media portrayal of AAC users.  Like most disability media portrayal (Paralympics excepted – thank you Channel 4) it is often pretty dire and full of pity for the so-called ‘victims’ of impairment.  It was agreed that AAC users should be shown in the media doing things other than simply being an AAC user.

This is exactly what Channel 4 is hoping to achieve with this project when they say, “we want to give them a platform and normalise the presence of disabled people on TV by adding fresh, representative voices to the rich diversity of our existing pool of announcers.”

I have no speech at all so I use a communication aid called a Pathfinder.  I am lucky I am able to use a keyboard to work a special programme that uses icons to speed up communication. However there are many communication aids meeting the needs of most people who can’t speak, whatever the level of their physical skill. That I use a communication aid has become a matter of fact to me, my family and friends. What is interesting is how unknown people react to me using, what seems to them, a magic box.  I must say the reactions have been odd, not down-right negative fortunately, like when I go to quiz nights everyone wants to be on my team because they assume my communication aid can magically get all the right answers!!

The great thing about Channel 4 is that we were treated like any continuity announcer, so we wrote our own scripts; hence you would hear our own voices, albeit mine with some fantastic tweaks from the Wonderful Wendy who worked as hard as me programming my communication aid to sound fantastic!

The Wonderful Wendy is one of my partners on the Unspoken Project, a theatre project where the issue of communication is at the centre. This is important because, like television and other media, we think the world of drama rarely gives voice to people with communication difficulties and we want to change this. We hope to do this by a number of ways.

One of our plans is to produce a play where the main voice is from a young woman who has no speech. We want to tell the unspoken story of her getting a voice and coming of age. At the moment we are holding variety nights on 25 January and 18 March at Tottenham Chances, 399 High Road, London, N17 6QN. Entry is £7. All proceeds will go towards the Unspoken theatre project.

The nights put all kinds of voices in the limelight. If you would love to perform on one of our nights, we would be delighted to hear from you! Also we are always looking for audience members to come to our January and March shows.  You can contact us by e-mail unspokenprojectaac@gmail.com, follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook – watch this space for our website!

A day in the life of an iPad

Guest blog by Margie Woodward, Scope Empowerment Officer

As part of my consultation work with users of Scope services, I have been using an iPad with disabled people who have had little access to technology before.

New technology has the power, literally, to open doors. I believe it can enable disabled people to exercise more choice and control in their daily lives.

To show what I mean, here are some examples of how an iPad can be tailor-made to an individual’s abilities and interests across a normal day…

7.00am The iPad’s alarm call wakes you up.

7.05am A light bulb moment…

It’s possible to use the iPad to control your light switches using the Wemo app.

8.00am Communicate with your support worker

Grid player is a very exciting application that enables disabled people to use symbols to get the app to speak what has been entered. By personalising the grid player, this has the potential to be a low-cost communication tool.

Speech therapists are enthusiastic about using iPads and have been assisting service users to create boards for their preferences. One person at Drummonds abandoned his much more expensive communications aid for an iPad, which he uses to communicate both in person and on Facebook!

9.00am With assisted technology from Perrero switch open door for support worker

One of our biggest breakthroughs was the discovery of a scanning switch to operate the iPad apps that uses voice over. Quite a lot of apps including music and media are accessible using the device. It is called the Perrero developed by RSL Steeper. The device is used with a single switch button.

11.00am Study

12 people at Drummonds are using the iPad to search the internet for history about Scope’s service and the artist John Constable’s relationship with the old rectory.

12.00pm Play chess

A game like Pool offers the chance to play a game that might be inaccessible otherwise. One person is playing chess independently in his own room and doesn’t need to go to the computer room to do this now!Man using iPad

1.00pm Order a taxi to go into town for shopping, a trip to the cinema or a doctor’s appointment

Someone used the Pages app to read GP’s handouts and prepare for a medical appointment. It also helped them create a one-page profile detailing their support needs and preferences.

2.00pm Shop online

The ladies at Laverneo needed new curtains for their bungalow and have been able to see what is available and what it looks like in the room. It would not be possible for all the ladies to go out together to choose but by using the iPad they are all involved in the decision of what to have.

4.00pm Skype family or friends

People in Scope services are now able to stay in touch with friends using Skype. Being able to see each other’s faces really helps those with speech impairments and people who use signing like Makaton.

5.00pm Bake a cake

An iPad can help with sequencing a task such as baking a cake. You can use switches to operate food processors too (very messy but quite fun!)

6.00pm Play Catchphrase!

At Sully day service, people are using the iPad and Apple TV for group activities like playing Catchphrase in teams. They are also experimenting with blue tooth technology for switches.

7.00pm Catch up on the news

The news group at Chester Skills Development Centre used a HDMI to IPad cable to view what was on the IPad on a TV.

Apps used by the news group are:

  • BBC Sport app
  • Coronation Street Spoiler
  • BBC Weather app
  • BBC News app
  • Stock Tracker
  • BBC Radio 1 app
  • Trading 212

9.00pm Watch a film

People can choose from a variety of online movie and TV services.

11.00pm Time for sleep…

At Rosewarne in Cornwall one person has been using the Sleep Easily meditation app, which enables her to have a restful night’s sleep.

• As part of BT’s Connected Society programme Scope, BT and the RCA’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Inclusive Design wrote a report, Enabling Technology. The report found that the key to creating enabling technology is, wherever possible, to support disabled people to create their own solutions.

Roman House resident’s short film about communication

Simon Pugsley, who lives at our Roman House residential service, has been involved with creating a short film with Hampshire County Council around communication.

Hampshire County Council, in partnership with the Big Lottery-funded Learning at the Centre Project at Basingstoke Discovery Centre, has been working with people who have communication difficulties to create a training film to help staff and others to communicate more confidently with people who find speech challenging.

This small group, supported by staff from the Learning at the Centre Project, Hampshire Learning Centre and Adult Services, wrote and made a short film whose key message is to “have patience and listen”.

The producers say, “The film is sometimes challenging to watch as there are no subtitles, but people do not speak in subtitles – patience and listening carefully with respect will provide the answers. The film will be used as a training aid by Hampshire County Council, but with the agreement of the group who made the film it is freely available to all organisations and individuals, particularly those who come into everyday contact with people who sometimes struggle to be heard and get their point across. The film was supported by the Learning at the Centre Project as a development opportunity for participants.”

Watch How to talk to me on YouTube.