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Project information

A voice for adults with learning disabilities

We all need to be understood, yet many adults with learning disabilities aren't able to communicate verbally, so spend their days feeling isolated and frustrated.
Please help us fund iPads and an innovative communication app to give non-verbal adults a voice, and control over their daily lives.

January 2019 - December 2019

Charity information: FitzRoy

FitzRoy logo
  • Need


    Many of the 840 people FitzRoy support are non-verbal. Support staff try hard to interpret what the people we support want, but sometimes 'get life wrong', which is extremely frustrating for the person concerned. This frustration often manifests itself as challenging behaviour which is very distressing for that person and their caregiver.
    Nationwide, a representative group of the people we support, have told us that communication technology is a top priority.


    MyChoicePad app uses 4000 Makaton (universal sign language) signs and pictures to enable non-verbal 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 their carers. We are fundraising for iPads to give a voice to as many people as possible.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Enable non-verbal adults to communicate; increasing their independence, choice and control.


    » Supply two or more iPads to our 20 residential homes plus our larger supported living services. Set up an individual log in for each resident.
    » External trainers show FitzRoy staff how to personalise each user's MyChoice to reflect their personal interests and needs and gain optimal benefit.
    » 18 Makaton Champions (FitzRoy staff with tech aptitude) will promote a Makaton culture across FitzRoy and be ongoing resource for all staff.
    » Staff use MyChoice to help people develop their vocabulary, construct sentences, and express their emotions so we can provide the support they want.

    What success will look like

    Staff record communication progress in daily logs, these feed into our 'LoveMyLife' framework which measures progress against personal goals in 5 key areas, one is communication.

    Aim 2

    Encourage verbal development in people with autism and milder learning disabilities.


    » Makaton is designed to support verbal development, and, with some people we support, may eventually be dropped as all communication becomes verbal.

    What success will look like

    Staff record communication progress in daily logs, these feed into our 'LoveMyLife' framework which measures progress against personal goals in 5 key areas, one is communication.

    Aim 3

    Open up horizons and allow the people we support to benefit from the digital world.


    » Residents can also use the new iPads to video message relatives and friends who live far away.
    » Residents can use iPads to access the internet to research their hobbies, watch videos, enjoy music.
    » Specialist apps like Pictello put activities into simple visual sequences so residents can learn to do new things e.g. make a cake, take the bus.

    What success will look like

    New activities enjoyed are recorded in daily logs and progress is measured against agreed personal goals in the 'How I spend my time' section of 'LoveMyLife'.

  • Impact


    Enabling people to communicate will improve every aspect of their lives and staff will be able to understand and make their ambitions a reality. Sharon, a day centre user, would become very frustrated and distressed when staff misunderstood her. Since using MyChoice she is really calm and engaged, gives staff high fives to confirm they've understood her and loves telling us about her weekends. When asked how she felt about MyChoice she used the app's mood board to say 'excited!'


    Staff not using the app to its full potential. Enthused and confident staff will be key. We've budgeted £3,000, for specialist external training from MyChoicePad experts. Additionally, 18 'Makaton Champions' (Support Workers selected for aptitude and interest) will promote Makaton use in their geographical area and act as a learning resource to any staff member in any of our 91 services.


    We'll produce written reports, including quantitative data. This project will produce great case studies, e.g. - when we demo-ed MyChoice to Nationwide (our service user forum) Graham, who lives in a FitzRoy home, picked it up instantly and used it to communicate directly with one of our Trustees.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £28,500

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £22,000 iPads 55 ipads (@£400) for use by people we support.
      £2,400 MyChoice unlimited license Accessible by anyone at any of our 91 services
      £3,000 staff training External trainers will leave staff confident and enthusiastic to support residents with MyChoice
      £1,100 admin Towards staff costs (IT, Quality Manager, Service Managers, training of Makaton Champions

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Ian Karten Charitable Trust £8,500 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The MyChoice app could benefit people across all FitzRoy's 91 services. These include 5 day services, 20 residential homes, and supported living services in Hampshire, Surrey, East Sussex, Cambridgeshire, London, Essex, Cheshire, East and West Midlands, Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Oxfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Kent.


    Some people we support can speak, others are too profoundly disabled to operate an iPad. MyChoice is ideal for those (c. 300 people) who are non-verbal, or have limited speech, but have the ability to learn Makaton and use buttons.

    For example, Andy understands Makaton well (he learnt at school) but doesn't have the manual dexterity to sign himself. With MyChoice, his carers would not have to guess what he was saying and could learn much more about his interests, thoughts and ambitions.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Since 1962 FitzRoy has supported adults with learning disabilities and autism to lead the lives they choose. We invest heavily in staff development to give the people we support as much choice, opportunity, independence and quality of life as possible. Good communication is central to delivering this person-centred care, and we are constantly reviewing and improving the methods we use. Refreshing our staff's Makaton is a key priority this year, and MyChoice would greatly enhance this.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Kirsty Millward, Project Lead

    FitzRoy Quality Manager - 26 years at FitzRoy, also a trained Makaton tutor and LD nurse, Kirsty is passionate about improving communication.

    Craig Richards, Head Of IT

    Craig supported our staff to trial MyChoice in Trafford, Petersfield and Malvern with fantastic results, he will support a cross-FitzRoy roll out

    Makaton Champions

    18 support workers selected as ambassadors and a resource for all staff. Will receive two days of physical Makaton training plus MyChoice Training

    Vince, Service User Representative

    Vince lives in a FitzRoy home in Norfolk, and is a member of Nationwide, our service user forum, he will be an enthusiastic user and Ambassador

Ange and Sharon


Buys an ipad to give a voice to an adult with learning disabilities

'the smile that came from her was just unbelievable'

Ange, volunteer at our Trafford day centre using MyChoice with Sharon for first time