Revolutionary technology can change lives

People with learning disabilities make their voices heard

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People with learning disabilities are being helped to achieve their life goals through a new initiative that uses multi-media technology to capture every aspect of their lives. The interactive computer profiling, which enables people who cannot communicate verbally to express themselves through pictures and video footage, were on display during a special event to mark Learning Disability Week (18-25 June).

It is particularly valuable for people who cannot communicate verbally. Their communication signs or expressions are captured using photographs or video and this information is incorporated into a programme that profiles everything from what a person likes to eat, how they like to be moved, how they like to have fun, and what they hope to achieve in the future (eg employment goals).

The profiling allows service staff to quickly understand the needs of individuals and better communicate with them. Meanwhile, individuals can share their profile with whoever they like, for example new friends or family members.

Individuals are involved with every aspect of creating their profile, and many have taken control of filming footage for their profile. The project is being run by multi-media profiling project manager Surinder Dhesi, who has already worked with leaving students at St Ann's School in Hanwell, and with people at the Cowgate Day Centre in Greenford.

Staff from Ealing Council and its partners, including Ealing PCT and Mencap, were on hand to provide information about the myriad of local services available to people with learning disabilities - covering everything from direct payments and benefits, to housing and health.

The event will also see the launch of a five-year learning disabilities plan, produced by the Ealing Learning Disability Partnership Board. Featuring bold pictures and large print to make it accessible for all, the plan has been produced in consultation with people with learning disabilities and their carers to provide a framework for the future development of council and health services.

Cllr Ian Green, cabinet member for adult services and housing said: "Learning Disability Week provides a special opportunity to raise awareness of the issues faced by people with learning disabilities and their families every day. We want to make sure people with learning disabilities and their carers are being listened to and are getting more power and control over their lives. There are already a number of great initiatives in place to achieve this, such as direct payments, the carers action group, and the speaking up club called Ealing Partners, and we will continue to strive to do even better.”

Ealing’s Learning Disability Week celebrations also included a picnic in Acton Park on Wednesday 21 June. Special guests include Arsenal footballer Justin Hoyte, Mayor of Ealing Cllr Diane Pagan, and local MP Andrew Slaughter.

June 27, 2006