24 Mar 2011

Disabled children and young people will gather together on Friday (March 25) to launch one of the world's first 'chat' pages to be designed in picture and symbol format.

Chatability, a virtual communication tool designed as part of The Children's Society's Askability website, is being launched at The Christian Renewal Conference Centre in Solihull to help celebrate 2011 as the national year of speech, language and communication.

The Children's Society Askability website is the only symbol-supported website of its kind. It gives disabled children and young people access to the latest national news stories, soap storylines and other fun facts. Chatability takes this a stage further by offering children and young people with disabilities a forum to share their views online.

With the rise of social media and the success of sites such as Twitter and Facebook, Chatability will give disabled children and young people their first taste of 'tweeting' in a safe virtual space. The site uses a finite list of more than 1,000 pre-loaded words and symbols.

The Children's Society's Policy Advisor, Iryna Pona, said:

'We believe that barriers in communication are one of the key issues preventing disabled children and young people from enjoying the same opportunities that many children do. We are delighted to launch Chatability, a unique tool that will go some way towards breaking down some of the barriers that disabled children and young people sadly face.'

The day will also mark the launch of the Askability Schools Pack, an information tool which will be available upon request to specialist and mainstream schools throughout England.

Ends

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Notes to Editors

The Children's Society wants to create a society where children can be children, childhood is respected and every child is valued for who they are. Our approach is driven by our Christian values and by the voices of children and young people, who are at the heart of all we do. In 2009 The Children's Society published The Good Childhood Inquiry, the UK's first independent national inquiry into childhood. Its aims were to renew society's understanding of modern childhood and to inform, improve and inspire all our relationships with children. The Children's Society is continuing to improve this understanding of issues affecting children through all of its ongoing work.