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Arum helps social enterprise launch its digital voice 16 SEPTEMBER 2013

Arum helps social enterprise launch its digital voice

Arum has joined forces with social enterprise Talking Mats to develop an innovative new health and education tool, which helps people with communication difficulties.

The Digital Talking Mats application is an evolution of the original Talking Mats resource.
Developed by Scottish speech and language therapists Dr Joan Murphy and Lois Cameron, the original Talking Mats involves answering questions by placing symbols onto a textured mat that is divided into three response areas: positive, negative and neutral or unsure.

Based on strong research evidence, it is designed to help both children and adults with communication difficulties think about issues discussed with them and to record their thoughts in a visual way. It is used by clinical practitioners, carers and support workers in a wide range of health, social work, residential and education settings.

The new Talking Mats Digital range, developed by Arum, will further support the enterprise’s mission to help as many people as possible find a voice who otherwise can’t articulate one. It includes two mobile Apps for both Android and iOS and a full desktop browser version. New engaging symbols have been specially designed for the digital offering.

Communication difficulties affect more than 2,500,000 people in the UK and can arise from congenital or acquired disabilities, degenerative illnesses, mental health problems, literacy problems and personal distress.

The Digital Talking Mats resource was officially launched by Anne McGuire MP and one of the inspirations behind Talking Mats, Greig McMurchie aged 32 from Grangemouth. Greig, who has cerebral palsy, is delighted and grateful that Talking Mats has helped him express his opinions and influence his own life choices.

At the launch, Anne McGuire MP, who is co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Disability Group (APPDG), stressed “the importance of this technology in allowing people to have their own voice and not having other people speak or make decisions for them.”

Talking Mats Director Dr Joan Murphy, commented: “We support a variety of individuals from children as young as three to the elderly. Adding the digital version to our original resources means that we can tailor our services to the individual’s preferences. There is always a place for a low-tech resource but some people thrive on and respond better to technology.

“In test groups that included teachers, social workers, relatives of the individuals requiring support, and learning support managers, Talking Mats Digital has received great feedback.”

Nick Stewart, Arum’s director of software and products, said: “Talking Mats has already helped so many individuals, from people living with head injuries or strokes to children with learning difficulties. The design of the digital version honours the simplicity of the original version and offers an engaging user experience. It is intuitive, easy to navigate and is a powerful communication tool.

“We are honoured to work with Talking Mats to provide such a valuable service. As a social enterprise they are ahead of the curve with their vision and digital offering.”

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