The last 12 months I’ve really clocked up some mileage on my poor car. January to April 2012 alone, I carried out 64 visits from Torquay to Anglesey and Newcastle to Perth and Ballymena.
I’ve been meeting hundreds of Makaton fans all over the UK. Most of them Makaton tutors but for each meeting they brought along teachers, teaching assistants, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, local authority managers and of course parents!
I’ve been taking my app, MyChoicePad and a suitcase of iPads on the road, in a bid to to put the app in the hands of those who can really benefit from it so they can make an informed opinion as to who and how it might help.
For those of you who’ve not come across MyChoicePad – it’s an educational iPad app that uses Makaton symbols and signs to help build communication skills. And for those of you I met on my travels – I want to thank you for your fantastic welcome, enthusiasm and support for what I’m trying to achieve with MyChoicePad.
There have been some really great highlights and learning points in the last 12 months:
Winning the Big Venture Challenge last September gave me a grant which enabled me to continue to develop MyChoicePad, do it as my full time job and it’s also paid for my petrol for those 64 visits!
Working with Nicola Hayton and Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust to put together a case study on the benefits of Makaton and MyChoicePad for adults post stroke.
Spending time at Derwen College with Ami Coleman and Julie Hawkins and filming some outstanding and innovative use of MyChoicePad with students. It really blew my mind.
My travels taught me that people would benefit from ideas for grids and activities using the app so as we work our way through each Makaton collection we are putting together free downloads and videos which you can find at www.mychoicepad.com/in-app-purchases/.
Twelve months ago many schools were questioning the benefits of iPads in the classroom. This is far from the case now and just about every school I’ve come across already has them in the classroom or they are piloting. As a result of this people have been asking me about training on iPads and MyChoicePad so we’ve just launched a half day training course for groups and we’re also recruiting passionate MyChoicePadders to become trainers.
Things are really tough in the NHS. The level of severity and waiting lists for speech and language therapy varies from area to area but good news was hard to come by. This caused me great concern and plays on my mind a lot.
To end on a positive note, my little company Insane Logic managed to impress the judges of a Dragon’s Den type competition so much with what we had achieved thus far with MyChoicePad, that Telefonica (O2 in the UK) are going to invest in us so that we can grow and develop MyChoicePad and other innovative affordable technology to help get everyone communicating effectively!
So watch this space…exciting times ahead!