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MAKING SENSE. We perceive the world with our senses - sight, smell, touch, taste and sound. Our senses ground us in reality and help us engage with everything beyond our bodies. For people with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities, focusing on things can be very difficult. They may have severe impairments that make it hard to move, remember things or concentrate. They may struggle to communicate with others, or recognise the effects their actions have on the outside world. At Acorn Lodge, Options for Life are committed to helping people with PMLD get the most out of life and providing activities that help them engage with their surroundings. We hope to show you how we use the latest technology to create rich sensory environments of noise, vision and touch to stimulate participants and help them interact more deeply with the world around them.

FEELING THE BEAT. In August 2018 Options for Life received a grant for ÂŁ18,000 from the Postcode Community Trust to develop our own Sensory Music Technology. Since then, Music Development Worker Tom has been hard at work finding ways to help our participants enjoy music more fully.

MOVE-ABLE RACKET-MAKERS. Making music should be for everyone, but learning to play an instrument can require a tricky amount of coordination and dexterity. Using movement-detecting R-IOT microchips, we've developed technology that can turn simple gestures into harmonious and rhythmic sounds. These chips can be put into all sorts of devices wristbands, balls, tubes; or suspended on a bar and programmed to make thousands of different noises. So, with a flick of the hand you could smash out a drum solo, or by waving a tube you could compose a violin concerto. Often, we link these devices to speakers on resonance boards, which vibrate with base-y tones and allow participants to physically experience the sounds they're making.

LIGHTS, MUSIC, ACTION. A lot of our work is about linking up the senses. Our Pixel-Mapping technology continues in this vein, seeking create soundscapes that react and adapt to changes in light and colour detected through a camera. By matching pixels to musical notes (so blue might be a C, red might be a G), we can generate sounds that change when the scene changes. So, if something green suddenly appears, or the room goes dark, your composition will change too. This means that when participants move about holding a camera, they can have a unique soundtrack of their journey composed based on their field of vision. Alternatively, the camera can be used to pick up participants' movements and convert them into sound.


Everyday technology offers plenty of opportunities for music-making. Using apps compatible with "Ableton Link" project we've begun using tablets as musical instruments, linking several together to create loops and beats that a whole group can contribute to.

SENSORY STORIES Ever since humans could talk, we've been telling stories. Sensory Stories help us create immersive, stimulating narratives for our PMLD participants, making them a part of the world we are creating with sight, smell, touch, taste and sound. We set our stories using a state-ofthe-art projector and 7.1 Surround Sound, weaving images and sounds together to match the settings and plot. Sometimes the participants will be in the jungle, or at a concert, or walking down a busy street. We use oils and food to create smells and props for certain parts of the story that incorporate sight, smells, taste and touch. The stories are fun and interactive, and changeable to meet the needs of the participants.

INTERACTIVE PROJECTOR Our Interactive Projector is one of our most recent additions to Acorn Lodge. It detects movement through a light sensor, creating a huge surface area to play with. It can be used for games, quizzes, mindfulness, colouring and storytelling.

FIND OUT MORE OptionsforlifeWM @OptionsforLife2

SUPPORT US You can set up a one-off or monthly donation at www.optionsforlife/donate.aspx Alternatively, contact Fundraising Officer Luke at

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Sensory Tech Showcase  

As part of iSandwell's digital festival, Options for Life showcased how we use technology to create more engaging sensory activities for our...

Sensory Tech Showcase  

As part of iSandwell's digital festival, Options for Life showcased how we use technology to create more engaging sensory activities for our...