Get involved Donate Winter appeal For over 40 years, we have been supporting some of the most vulnerable people in society, helping them to live as independently as possible. Independence involves being able to communicate the choices you make, which is why we're asking you to donate to our appeal and give the gift of communication. How technology can help Everyone has the right to choose how they live their lives, regardless of their level of disability and communication needs and technology can play a vital role in providing these choices. It’s widely recognised that tablet computers and their applications (apps) are a communication aid, but they are not readily available to people with learning or communication difficulties. Technology can be seen as a luxury and finding the funds can prove difficult, even though we know that it improves the ability of people with learning disabilities to communicate with those around them. Improving someone’s ability to express their desires and wishes helps reduce frustration, isolation and social exclusion and increases their independence. How Sam gained control Sam is a very social person and a great communicator, but due to his disability, he cannot speak verbally. Instead, he aims to get his message across using Makaton hand signs and pictures. In addition to this communication barrier, he has shaky hand motor skills that mean his Makaton can appear ‘slurred’. Initially, Sam, his social circle and his support staff faced a number of communication-related challenges that caused Sam to display challenging behaviours. Often Sam didn’t fully understand where he was going or what would be happening next and felt frustrated that others had to speak for him. When he got his first tablet, it was a revelation for Sam, a whole new world of communication opened up for him. Now he documents his social activities to spark conversations with those around him, uses the tablet to teach Makaton symbols to his housemates, and regularly Skype's his parents in private. He finally has more control of his communication. How technology helped Leah Using this technology made all the difference to Leah*, who we support. Leah is a very social woman, but at the age of 40 her conversation was limited to using pictures in a book. Leah’s support staff wanted to help develop her communication and decided a tablet was essential. Leah took to the tablet instantly, it meant she could start conversations and communicate what’s important and personal to her. Leah can now take her own pictures and build her own bank of images to express herself. She can show people around her the places she’s been, people she’s seen, and all of her favourite things. Using a tablet computer has made a huge difference to Leah’s life and has given Leah her own voice for the first time in 40 years. *Name has been anonymised for privacy.