Ange and Sharon using MyChoicePad

70% of the people we support use a range of non-verbal communication.

Imagine you spend the day with someone, and they make all your choices for you, they decide where you go, what you do, what you wear and what you eat, and you can’t explain your wishes or choices in a way that they understand. You would be so frustrated and feel very isolated.

We’re fundraising for iPads to give a voice to as many people as possible

Technology as readily available as an iPad, together with a really great communications app like MyChoicePad is opening up the world for people with learning disabilities. The app uses 4000 Makaton (universal sign language) signs and pictures to enable people to clearly express their feelings and make choices. It can be personalised using photos and video. We’ve trialled at three of our services with remarkable results. Users have quickly got to grips with the app and are visibly happier, more engaged, calmer and having meaningful two-way conversations with the people closest to them.

€œGives me a voice.€
€œI can make my needs known.€
€œIt’s fun.€
€œI learn more.€

John can choose to sort his cds

To be able to communicate is a fundamental need.

Many people we support may not have a range of vocabulary or the confidence to use it; technology can help them build that confidence. There are some lovely stories of how we have transformed lives – like Helen, it was only as she became more confident, she was able to tell us her dream to walk again, or Bex who uses a lot of non-verbal communication, but through an app, she was able to use the spoken word to say €˜mum’ for the first time. And Sharon, who is teaching volunteer Ange how to improve her Makaton. These are genuine examples where there is a wonderful change in the dynamic, as every small step leads to more independence and control to the people we support.

New technology is making a huge difference to the lives of people with learning disabilities, giving them more choice and control than ever before.

“One day, we showed Bex a photo of her mum and asked her who it was. She was able to press the button for €˜mum’ and when the app voice spoke the word, Bex was absolutely beaming as this was the first time she could express what she wanted to say using spoken words.” Karen Bannister, Malvern deputy manager

Bex using the CleverTouch screen


  • Every £400 we raise will buy another iPad for someone with a learning disability
  • We have one week to raise £10,000 and the Big Give will double it.
  • Then we will have £20,000 to buy as many iPads as we can, plus an unlimited licence to MyChoicePad communications app and Makaton training
  • Every penny you donate will be doubled


Technology is transforming lives

Bex is 28 years old and previously had lived with her mum and dad. When she moved to Malvern two years ago it was quite an upheaval for her, but she settled in really well. She communicates mainly through finger gestures and facial expressions with the odd word. She also likes to sing to communicate too, and often ends up dancing and laughing.

When we introduced her to the CleverTouch screen, Bex had never engaged with anything like it before. She loved using it for drawing and being creative, using the tactile pen and playing music. Her increasing confidence with CleverTouch enabled her to graduate to an iPad, on which she’s been using the MyChoicePad communications app, MyChoicePad. One day, we showed Bex a photo of her mum and asked her who it was. She was able to press the button for €˜mum’ and when the app voice spoke the word, Bex was absolutely beaming as this was the first time she could express what she wanted to say using spoken words. The freedom the technology enables has worked wonders, she uses the iPad to Skype her family, it’s so much easier for her to communicate with them, she doesn’t need to wait for their visits, she can contact them whenever she wants to.

When people with learning disabilities are given the technology to communicate their thoughts and feelings it can make such a huge difference to their lives. Everyone is unique in how they express themselves, and many of the people we support communicate in different ways. We have been using the MyChoicePad app, which uses Makaton signs and pictures to help people to communicate and express their feelings clearly and make choices. MyChoicePad is being used on iPads in our services and we are seeing remarkable results, with people having meaningful two-way conversations with their carers and are visibly happier, more engaged and calmer as a result. Ange Kinder volunteers at our Trafford Day and Community Service in Manchester. She helps support two people who regularly sign and has been using MyChoicePad. Ange said:
€œIt has been great for me to learn more Makaton and see how pleased they are to have quality communication with me, rather than me guessing at what they are signing which is incredibly frustrating for both of us. Sharon has taken great pleasure in showing me the signs and correcting me when her version of the sign is slightly different. Our Big Give appeal this year is to fund iPads and a communications app to help the people we support to have a voice and be understood. By supporting our Big Give Christmas Challenge appeal you could help to give people with learning disabilities the chance to be understood and to have meaningful conversations.