Fiona tames the dragons

Former Burntisland woman Fiona Wilson who recently went on the Irish Dragons Den and secured funding for a communication app for adults and children with communication disorders.
Former Burntisland woman Fiona Wilson who recently went on the Irish Dragons Den and secured funding for a communication app for adults and children with communication disorders.

A FORMER Burntisland woman recently received the backing of five dragons when she took her iPad app, designed to help adults and children with communications disorders, on to the Irish version of a popular TV show.

Fiona Wilson (37), is a teacher working with teenagers with autism and learning disabilities at St Catherine’s Special School in County Wicklow, Ireland.

And after struggling to find an app to meet the communication needs of her students, as she needed one that was age appropriate and simple to use, she decided to create her own.

From this, ‘image2talk’ was born and the mother-of-two used television series ‘Dragons’ Den Ireland’ to secure the funding to help with the project and she was the first participant on the show to receive backing from all five dragons.

Fiona, who lived in Burntisland for 26 years and was a teacher at Pathhead Primary before moving to Ireland 11 years ago, told the Press: “I filmed the Dragons’ Den show in January but it was not aired until May.

“All five dragons came on board with my project each sharing out the investment I had asked for.

“It was a once in a lifetime experience.

“I was well rehearsed in my two minute pitch and some answers to questions I thought they might ask.

“Once I got started oI kind of forgot about the cameras being there and just spoke about what I knew.”

Since launching the app, which shows rows of images which when tapped show a text label and voice output identifying the item, Fiona says she has received great feedback from the parents of her students as well as other professionals including speech and language therapists.

She explained: “It is an app for any individuals with a severe communication disorder as a result of diagnosis such as autism, aphasia, pervasive developmental disorder, down syndrome or stroke.

“Unique to ‘image2talk’ is that it completely eliminates the need to navigate through category and page menus.

“It uses real images making it suitable for adults and children and it can be easily customised to make it a personal communication tool for the user.”

“At the moment ‘image2talk’ is for iPad so the next steps are to develop it for iPhone/iPod and the Android devices.

“I would also like to develop ‘image2talk’ in different languages, but right now though I am just raising awareness of it.”