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Working with How Do I?

Since late 2018, we’ve been working with new assisted technology provider, How Do I? to support adults with a learning disability to carry out job tasks independently in the workplace. So far, we have trialed their technology in two of our social enterprises: Mailout and our Tooley Street café.

How Do I? is an app which you download to your mobile phone. It uses near field communication (NFC) technology to deliver instructional videos via mobile, to help people learn the steps to complete different tasks independently. The user simply places their mobile phone over one of How Do I?’s stickers – which are positioned close to where they are working – and this triggers the instructional video to start.

Users click to progress to each step, working through the video at their own pace. The app has been helping people to complete tasks such as making a cup of coffee or packing food tins, without needing supervision.

Current MailOut Apprentice, Joseph, explains how he's been using the How Do I? app in the workplace. 

How Do I? is designed to support people to live more independently. It was developed by two teachers working with young people with learning disabilities at Swiss Cottage School. Adapting the technology to support adults with learning disabilities is a natural step. The app is also being piloted elsewhere amongst older people, people with dementia, and as a support mechanism for standard workplace employer training where tasks are repetitive and easy to demonstrate.

How Do I? increases personal independence and enables self-directed learning for people with learning disabilities – improving their wellbeing as well as practically enabling them to sustain employment and participate in the workplace. It is a low cost solution which, ultimately, we hope will enable us to support more people with learning disabilities to access employment.

Milly Wheeler, our Award Centre and Training Manager, said: “We started working with How Do I? in 2018 because we were looking for ways to improve our training materials and continue to make them more accessible. We trialled the app within two of our social enterprises and got to see the impact that using the technology has on the people we support.

“We’ve found that the app encourages people to learn independently, there’s less reliance on staff and people feel empowered by following instructions by themselves. Because we can make our own videos it provides consistency to the way we get our work done and it means that everyone is working to the same standards.”

The app works particularly well within Mailout, our warehouse and distribution social enterprise. Each work task was formerly guided by paper instructions, now by using phones it feels more accessible, fun and easy to understand. Our apprentices said “If only I had this at the beginning on my apprenticeship – it would have been SO much easier!”.

We are now looking to make videos for each of the tasks we do at Mailout to fulfil our customer orders. We’re excited to see the impact that working with How Do I? will have going forward.