Mencap is the leading voice of learning disability in the UK, valuing and supporting people with a learning disability, and their families and carers.
Their vision is a world where people with a learning disability are valued equally, listened to and included.
There are currently:
- 42,000 adults in NI with a Learning disability
- >1.5 million people in UK have a Learning disability
- Est. 80 million people in Europe have a Learning Disability
Research sadly shows that 1/3 of young people with a learning disability spend less than an hour outside their homes on a typical Saturday, and half of the population of people with a learning disability experience chronic loneliness and social isolation.
The impact of technology
Technology can have a wider benefit to those with a Learning Disability.
There is a growing body of research that identifies and quantifies the impact of social isolation and loneliness on individuals and the wider economy. There is clear evidence that social isolation and loneliness are associated with negative health outcomes, which in turn places increased stress on local health and social care services.
Research states the specific impacts of social isolation and loneliness on the wider economy include individuals affect being:
1.8 times more likely to visit a GP
1.6 times more likely to visit A&E
3.5 times more likely to enter local authority funded residential care.
We want to try to reduce these figures by implementing this preventive measure for people with a Learning Disability. New experiences can be extremely challenging for people with a learning disability, causing high levels of anxiety, which creates barriers to engaging with the world around them…
- What if we could break down social anxiety barriers?
- What if we could increased community engagement?
- What if we could use technology to build confidence to access the wider community and the activities we take for granted?
Techies in Residence Project
The techies in Residence Project enabled us to develop and test our proof of concept prototype which presents interactive social experiences located around a virtual town square hosted on an interactive web portal.
Users are able to navigate around everyday activities that those without a learning disability may take for granted such as getting a bus, going to the leisure center or library, or accessing services .
We have carried out focus group testing which has demonstrated clear benefit in users willingness to try out new activities in the real world after having first run through them in the world around us portal. Focus Group feedback enabled us to identify/refine the social experiences developed. Changes were made how the connective ‘nodes’ (information buttons/ click to next steps) looked in terms of colour and size to enhance visibility. i.e. yellow and black nodes rather than pink. Interactive mechanisms (pop-ups) were embedded to provide additional learning resources including easy read presentations, literature and options.
Understanding the importance of sequential activities, images were re-shot and nodes re-designed to follow a ‘path with purpose’. E.g. the first Library activity is being greeted by the Librarian, who lists options of what you can do, you select the command icon and the appropriate nodes appear, rather than having all options presented at once.
You can visit the live project here: