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Martin Brooks

May 10, 2010

Yet another special father. The iPhone seems to be doing amazing things for DisAbled people who don’t have verbal communication. Is your child in this situation? Do leave your comments below.

A proud father told of his joy today at giving his severely disabled daughter a “voice” for the first time – by building her an iPhone app.

Martin Brooks, 42, created the app after he became increasingly frustrated at not being able to understand what his five-year-old daughter Mia Brooks wanted.

Bright Mia was deprived of oxygen at birth causing her to develop Cerebral Palsy which has left her unable to walk, talk or control her movements.

Mia has severe cerebral palsy. She can tell her father Martin what  she wants by pointing her eyes at different boxes on his iPhoneMia has severe cerebral palsy. Her father has created an iPhone app to help her communicate. She uses it by pointing her eyes at different pictures on his iPhone

She has only ever been able to communicate by “pointing” towards different objects with her eyes, movements which were often difficult to interpret. But while using his first iPhone last August, Martin was inspired by the “apps for everything” slogan and the handset’s easy-to-use colourful controls.

He set about creating a program to let Mia communicate with him and her mum, Sarah Phelan, 42, who is Mia’s full-time carer, based on her eye pointing.

Now after nine months of development, the courageous tot uses the software to tell her parents whether she is hungry, thirsty or wants to do something.

Dubbed the ‘iComm’, Mia points to a series of pictures on the iPhone screen using eye movements to show what she wants to do.

The app displays four images at a time on the iPhone screen of different needs, people or activities which Martin holds up in front of Mia.

She then indicates one of the images with her eye movements which Martin taps to reveal another screen which present different types of food or activities.

Martin, who runs a communication training company, said: ‘It has given her a voice for the first time and allowed us to understand her so much better.

‘Mia is cognitively alert, but unable to communicate, and I was afraid that as she grew she was not going to be able to tell us what she wanted.

‘I had a very strong concept in my head. I wanted to create an iPhone app to take Mia’s eye-pointing to the next level.

‘Mia finds it engaging that she can see pictures of herself doing an activity which gives her a greater sense of choice and loves seeing pictures of her friends and family.

‘Also it’s given us a form of reciprocal communication. Now I can ask her what she has been doings and she can reply. It’s allowed Mia to become much more sociable.

‘Another great thing about the iPhone is that it’s portable, so we can use it when Mia is out and about.’

Enlarge   Martin Brooks created iComm to help his daughter to communicate Martin Brooks created the iComm app that can be bought from Apple iTunes

Using the app, Mia can now tell her parents what she wants to eat or do, as well as answering question such as what she has done at school or which friends she has played with.

It also allows users to upload their own pictures of themselves, of friends, of their favourite foods and activities so that they can instantly recognise the images.

Users can even upload their own voice rather than a generic computer generated voice to create a fully personalised app.

He engaged the services of iPhone app creators Bappz to help him with the design and the app came out in March.

It was created for children with severe disabilities like Mia, or children suffering from communication difficulties such autism.

Martin has received emails of thanks from parents of disabled children around the world who are overjoyed at the new freedom of expression the application allows.

But he has since discovered the app can also prove invaluable to frustrated parents who find it hard to work out what babies and toddlers want before they begin to speak.

He added: ‘I initially created this for my daughter and children like her, but people pointed out to me that children of nine or ten months could also benefit.

‘The app can be used by anyone who wants to communicate but cannot verbalise what they want.

‘But if it helps one other person with a special needs child like Mia then it will be worth it.’

A basic version of the iComm app is free to download from the Apple store and the full version, usually £15.99, is currently available for £1.79.

Since its release in March, around 1,300 people have downloaded the iComm and Martin is currently working on a new reading app for children, iSpy Phonics.

More information on the iComm and iSpy Phonics can be found at

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Claire Sheridan permalink
    August 20, 2010 10:41 am

    Is there any way I can get e-mail contact details for Martin Brooks?

  2. samedifference1 permalink*
    August 20, 2010 10:50 am

    Hello Claire

    I went looking and all I could find was a contact form on the Mia’s apps website:

    Hope this helps

    Best wishes


    • Claire Sheridan permalink
      August 20, 2010 12:06 pm

      Thanks for your assistance. I requested Martin to contact me on this website and he came back to me almost immediately. Best of luck to you and will follow your site with interest.

      Regards, Claire

      • samedifference1 permalink*
        August 20, 2010 1:24 pm

        I’m very happy to hear that. Thanks for your interest in Same Difference.

        Best wishes



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