True Stories: Brendan O’Connell – e-Inclusion – work or play!

I first started in the disability sector as a casual Residential Support Worker whilst studying and I found it flexible and enjoyable, and it fit in with my lifestyle. The experience I gained in the role also gave me a firm grounding in operations at a service level and it certainly helps me now with understanding some of the challenges people face when living in supported accommodation and accessing services.

I’ve always had an interest in video, editing, photography, and all the associated equipment and technology, and I was first introduced to the concept and benefits of using this medium, as a form of accessible information for people with intellectual disabilities, when I was working in the United Kingdom (which was over a period of 4 years).

In my current role as Multimedia Officer for Sylvanvale Foundation my everyday tasks include working closely with clients on personal projects or plans, coordinating groups of staff and clients to work collectively on projects, such as video making workshops or multimedia training, and generally supporting people to access and utilise the inclusive technologies and software that is widely available.

One of the most successful uses of multimedia I have found is in developing personal profiles. This personalised and accessible information about an individual can be important at key life transition points as a person’s support needs change. Video, photo slide shows and presentations can really bring a story to life, as opposed to a written paper document or clinical report.

Handing over the reins and giving clients the control of equipment is another important aspect. This helps to facilitate greater choice and control for people through the use of adaptive technology, and it promotes digital inclusion, or e-Inclusion, for clients who may not have previously had the opportunity.

Some examples of the technologies and tools I use to do my work include video and digital cameras, Apple iPads and touch screens, text to voice software and apps, adaptive switch devices and buttons, photo and video editing software, as well as a variety of online resources.

One project that some of Sylvanvale’s clients recently participated in was From Pause to Play, which included multimedia and movie making workshops at Camden Creative Studios. We had a blast in the workshops which culminated in a premiere film night attended by families, friends and the local mayor.

I enjoy meeting new people and working in various settings and environments. I believe it’s important to have a balance of enthusiasm for fresh and creative approaches, but also to value listening to people and learning from their past experiences. Most of all, I believe enjoyment is a big factor when engaging people in an effective and unique way.

To watch the results of some of our multimedia projects please take a look at Sylvanvale’s YouTube channel.

Brendan O’Connell

Multimedia Officer

Sylvanvale Foundation


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