Swinnow dad who created incredible app which transforms symbols into text for families to speak with non-verbal children nominated for award

A Swinnow dad who wanted to be able to communicate with his non-verbal son created an incredible app which turns his symbols into words - and has now been nominated for a national award.

The idea came when Richard Keane, 35, was sent a series of text messages from his wife's phone one day on behalf of his eight-year-old son Rheuben.

"It was just a mix of random letters, numbers and grammatical symbols", Richard said.

"She rang me and told me that Rheuben wanted to send me a message."

The idea came when Richard Keane, 35, was sent a series of text messages from his wife's phone one day on behalf of his eight-year-old son Rheuben.

Endeavouring to decipher the symbols, a lightbulb moment sparked Richard's idea for the app.

"It got me thinking and I realised that all of Rheuben's communication broke down when somebody was no longer in the same room as him physically to see which symbols he was selecting on his PECS communication device", Richard told the YEP.

"That is where the idea of creating an app to accommodate him came from."

SymbolSend uses PECS symbols at its core - allowing users to choose what they want to say in symbol format.

The idea came when Richard Keane, 35, was sent a series of text messages from his wife's phone one day on behalf of his eight-year-old son Rheuben.

Nonverbal communication is the way in which people convey information about their emotions, needs, intentions, attitudes, and thoughts without the use of verbal language.

Once selected, the symbols can then be sent in a message which can be transformed into written words, and vice versa if sent to the neurodiverse user.

The app covers the vocabulary requirements of all ages, encouraging the development of communication skills for people with Autism Spectrum Condition, speech delay, or hearing impairment.

The app is suitable for families, educational settings or medical and healthcare professionals.

The idea came when Richard Keane, 35, was sent a series of text messages from his wife's phone one day on behalf of his eight-year-old son Rheuben.

Visual symbols are entered in sequence to create a phrase or sentence, which can then be sent to other SymbolSend users.

Now, more than 150 families globally are using the application Richard creating to communicate with their own children and loved ones.

Richard has now been nominated for the UK’s Largest Diversity Awards in the 'Entrepreneur of Excellence' award.

72,000 people were nominated this year alone in the awards, with just 126 selected.

The idea came when Richard Keane, 35, was sent a series of text messages from his wife's phone one day on behalf of his eight-year-old son Rheuben.

Community organisations and role models from across the UK will head toLiverpool Anglican Cathedral on September 16 for the awards.

Amongst those being honoured are charities, campaigners and activists, all of whom work tirelessly to combat injustice and discrimination in very different ways.

Previous winners include Black Girls Hike Founder Rhiane Fatinikun, domestic abuse charity WAVES Counselling Project, and actor Warwick Davis.

Speaking to the YEP after the announcement, Richard said: "I am incredibly shocked to be shortlisted for the Entrepreneur of Excellence category.

"I really wasn’t expecting it and there were so many other nominees all doing fantastic work.

"I’m very proud in what we have achieved so far and I hope that getting this far in the awards will only go to highlight our vision of where SymbolSend can go."

Paul Sesay, Founder and CEO of the National Diversity Awards added, “What an incredible year it has been for nominations, we received more than ever before showcasing the UK’s role models in all their glory. Producing this shortlist was extremely difficult due to the vast amount of invaluable work being carried out.

"The UK has truly embraced the spirit of The National Diversity Awards by uniting through adversity to create a host of incredible initiatives. The profound impact made by all our nominees is life changing, and I feel humbled to know that so much goodness is all around us.

"After weeks of deliberating and thousands of heartfelt testimonials later, I am delighted to finally present to you the best of British Diversity.

"Congratulations to all of our shortlisted nominees, it is an honour to recognise your fearlessness, resilience and humanitarian efforts with the rest of the world. Let’s continue the fight for justice, unity and equality for all”.

To learn more about the app, search SymbolSend.