Category Archives: Social media

Introducing our New Talking Mats Honorary Research Associate

JB picture

The Talking Mats Board is delighted to appoint Dr Jill Bradshaw from the Tizard Centre, University of Kent, to the position of honorary research associate. This is our first appointment of this kind. Talking Mats is an evidence-based framework and research is important to us – but that research needs to be much more diverse, and involve a much wider range of people.

Jill’s role will be to give the Talking Mats team:

  • A sounding board for research ideas and proposals
  • Advice and support on publishing articles
  • Identify research gaps and advise on funding avenues

We are also very aware that a number of people are using Talking Mats as a research tool, and Jill will also help to develop a virtual research network to bring interested researchers together.  We are still exploring ways in which this could work, but it could involve an email network, virtual seminars and/or twitter chats. If you are interested in being included, and have completed our Talking Mats Foundation Training course, Jill would love to hear from you. Please email her on J.Bradshaw@kent.ac.uk – or email info@talkingmats.com and we will forward your interest to her.

Jill is really excited about this new post.  She says ‘We know that the voices of people who have communication challenges can be excluded from research. This is a great opportunity to work with others to think about how we can use Talking Mats creatively in research and to find ways of including views from a wider range of people’.

Lois Cameron

November 2019

 

What is Talking Mats? An Interview with Lois Cameron

Jenny Trott

Many thanks to Jenny Trott for our new guest blog about her interview with Talking Mats Director, Lois Cameron – Jenny’s video provides some great information about the Talking Mats approach and our original and digital resources:

A year ago I started my YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/jennytrott) as a way of supporting parents and carers with information and inspiration. As a parent of a disabled child myself I knew that one of the best ways to find out things is from other parents, and YouTube was just a different and new way to do that. To date I have published nearly 50 films about subjects ranging from Self Directed Support to Rebound therapy, and including interviews with parents, professionals and disabled people.

Quite early on I knew that I wanted to make a film about Talking Mats. I had used Talking Mats when I worked with people living with dementia, and I knew that my son’s school were using them too. I had seen the benefits of this innovative communication tool but I also knew that many parents and carers didn’t really understand it because they hadn’t been given the right information.

Lois was kind enough to agree to join me in front of the camera, so in April I visited Talking Mats in Stirling with my tripods, microphones and cameras. It can be a bit daunting interviewing someone I’ve not met before but Lois instantly put me at ease and had the great idea of demonstrating a Mat rather than just talking about it. It was so interesting, experiencing using a Mat first hand and it helped to show the viewers what Talking Mats is really about.

You can view the video here: https://youtu.be/Fmyt1fE-_U8

The feedback from the film has been great, both from professionals, parent carers and SLT students; lots of lightbulb moments; “ah, now I get it”!

learning_and_thinking

I am still making films but less frequently as I am now also setting up a social enterprise, Mecoco (www.mecoco.org) here in North Ayrshire.  We’ll be offering work experience and volunteering opportunities to disabled people to work alongside us making candles and melts. I am sure Talking Mats will be invaluable in our workshop!

If you’d like to find out more about accessing Talking Mats training take a look here- https://www.talkingmats.com/training/  – we offer a range of options including online, and bespoke training for organisations, as well as advanced courses and specialist seminars for those who have already accessed Talking Mats Foundation Training.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advantages and risks of social media

social_media

I’ve been thinking about the advantages and risks of social media after Talking Mats recently reached 10K Twitter followers.

We (and by we I really mean my co-director, Lois, who had the vision – and at times the addiction! -to embrace and develop social media for Talking Mats) have worked hard at engaging with people who have a similar ethos as us i.e. to support and improve the lives of people with communication disabilities. We have linked with  people who could teach us new ways of looking at the world we work in and with whom we could share our ideas. We realised that social media is a powerful tool to connect with like-minded people across the world. In combination with Twitter and Facebook we write regular blogs illustrating relevant- and at times fun – issues from our work. We hope our website is  seen as a rich resource of information for anyone interested in communication.

However, I recently listened to a TED talk given by Wael Ghonim. He spoke about how in 2011 his use of social media helped spark the Arab Spring when he set up a Facebook page which attracted tens of thousands of followers and became a place for crowdsourcing and sharing. However, his initial euphoria turned to despair as the revolution turned ugly and the social media he was involved with also turned unpleasant. He describes what he now believes are 5 main problems with the direction that social media has taken.

  1. Social media can spread rumours that become seen as truth
  2. Social media can result in ‘echo-chambers’ – we only communicate with people we agree with
  3. Social media can quickly shift from discussion to disagreement and anger
  4. Social media encourages us to make statements (as a result of having only 140 characters) rather than ask questions about complex issues. Everyone can read these statements and we feel we need to defend them
  5. Broadcasting becomes more important than engagement; shallow comments become more important than discussion; we talk AT people rather than WITH each other; we become obsessed with numbers of posts and followers rather than with the quality of the discussion and who follows us.

He concluded his talk by suggesting that we need to develop social media protocols to create civility and respect and reasoned argument e.g.  get credit for the number of people whose mind you change. I found his arguments compelling and uncomfortable – I do recognise Wael Ghonim’s ‘problems’ when I venture into other areas on social media such as politics.

However, this has not been our experience and we are reassured that in the social media world of communication disability people are civil, respectful and generous. We at Talking Mats like to think that we are using social media as a forum for engagement, thoughtfulness, quality discussions, learning new ideas and developing understanding without hostility, anger and shallowness..

And long may this continue…..