Talking Mats Ltd is a social enterprise which improves the lives of people with communication difficulties by increasing their capacity to think about and express views about things that matter to them. The Talking Mats visual communication framework grew out of research conducted at the University of Stirling. Research shows use of Talking Mats improves both the quality and quantity of information gained. Our international research group continues to use Talking Mats as a research tool and their work continues to contribute to the Talking Mats evidence base and helps us to put research findings into practice
Talking Mats Ltd works internationally to:
- Deliver high quality, reflect practice training,
- Develop resources to support a range of topics both paper based and digitally.
- Undertake consultancies with organisations to improve their communication with service users.
The Talking Mats story began with a research project conducted by Dr Joan Murphy at The University of Stirling in 1998. The project looked at peer interactions between people with cerebral palsy who were using hi-tech communication aids. Analysis of the research results showed they didn’t have the vocabulary they needed in their systems, or the ability to express their views. Joan came up with the idea of a visual framework which allowed people to express their view, reflect and give them an option to change their mind.
Talking Mats has taken a fresh approach to communications symbols. The visual images we specially commissioned have been drawn to their own specifications by the leading comic artist Adam Murphy. Developing the symbols sets was a collaborative process that drew on the skills of the speech and language therapists on the Talking Mats team, the artist and people with communication difficulties who advised and gave feedback on the symbols as they were developed.
Talking Mats Ltd was established as a Social Enterprise in May 2011. Over the years, research has been conducted with people with a variety of communication difficulties, and Talking Mats are now classified as an evidence based communication tool, with both physical and digital versions. Both research and training are ongoing. Today, research involves 23 academic institutions worldwide and we have over 100 publications; there are over 14,000 people in 40 countries trained to use this flexible and creative tool to facilitate conversations for those with communication difficulties.