All of the team at RIX Research & Media are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Lord RIX. The RIX centre is named in honour of Brian RIX and he was instrumental in establishing research in technology for people with learning disabilities at UEL at the turn of the century.

Lord RIX passed away on Saturday 20th August at the age of 92. In addition to being a well known stage actor and entertainer, Lord RIX was a tireless campaigner for the learning disability community and was also the University of East London’s first Chancellor from 1997 to 2012. In 2014 he helped establish The RIX Centre at the university, now RIX Research & Media, which was founded to explore and develop ways of using new technologies to transform and enrich the lives of people with learning disabilities.

Since 2014, the Centre has pursued action research in partnership with disabled people, their families and the various professionals that provide for their education, health and care – and none of this might have been achieved without the support and inspiration of Lord RIX.

Here at RIX Research & Media, we will continue to feel the impact of his passionate belief in providing people with disabilities with opportunities to thrive. He constantly supported and guided our work and was a true inspiration. He will be greatly missed.

Lord RIX speaking at the House of Lord’s in 2009 for the launch of the RIX Centre’s Click Start project

The RIX Research and Media team have produced this short video that features the voices of the people with learning disability with whom Lord RIX has worked with over the years. They appear on camera to celebrate his life and achievements and share their experiences of working with Brian as his colleagues. Their moving comments highlight the affect that knowing Brian has had on them as individuals as well as the tremendous contribution he has made to their ongoing campaign to achieve equality as disabled people in our society. The video will be a key contribution to Lord RIX’s memorial.

From the Archive: Brian RIX presents ‘Let’s Go!’ – Lord RIX’s enduring commitment to media advocacy for people with learning disabilities is reflected in this vintage video extract from the ‘All About Us!’ DVD, produced to accompany the book that he wrote of the same name, published by Mencap in 2006. The ‘Let’s Go!’ series featured various day-to-day activities that could help enable independent living for young disabled people with the right support, such as using the telephone, traveling on public transport and just going out and having a good time! ‘Let’s Go!’ included sequences in which people with learning disabilities used the technologies of the time, including SLR cameras and computers. The programme, shown every Sunday morning on the BBC, actively promoted the use of new and emerging technologies to directly benefit people with learning disabilities and presented the vision of inclusion for this population that Brian campaigned for in so many other ways throughout his life. Lord RIX instilled the same goals and values at the heart of the RIX Centre as it was established more than 40 years later at the University of East London.

“A Wiki can be an amazing multi-faceted tool that can help people at all stages of life, in different ways.”

Trisha Holmes is Project Manager 0-65 Disability Service at Croydon Council. Trisha is implementing Multimedia Advocacy and RIX Wikis throughout the borough, to support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.  She has also set up a post-16 project using Wikis to help young people transition into adulthood.

These are her words:

“Why am I so passionate about Wikis?  They are so empowering.  A lot of children and young people with additional needs and disabilities are reduced to problems on the page. With a Wiki, you immediately turn the problem upside-down and you actually see the human being.”

“I’m working with parents who have started to develop their Wikis, including one who has a child with complex health needs and who has at least 17 different carers.  Her mum could see the value of a Wiki, to show what she can do, how she communicates and to teach the carers how to care for her when they know she’s in pain, or she’s hungry or thirsty.  It’s incredibly powerful.”

“Another mum shared her son’s Wiki with us.  She explained that Harry can’t have a conversation with anyone easily and won’t look anyone in the eye.  But she showed a video of him standing on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, in front of hundreds of people, playing in an orchestra.  And that’s the power of a Wiki.  Suddenly you look at Harry in a different way.”

Post 16 project

“There’s a group of young people and we want to work with them to provide pathways into education and employment for them.  These are young people who would have been sent away to residential schools out of their own community.  So they would have to come back and start to re-establish their social network, having lost touch with their school friends and not knowing how to get around in Croydon.  So we’re keeping them in the community.  They have a formal education two days a week then spend time at the local youth centre learning life skills.

“We’re helping them transition to adulthood.   The young people have set up their Wiki, calling it ‘Access to Success’ – it’s a personalised study programme.

“So they are learning practical skills, about being safe, getting out and about, cooking, staying healthy, working together as a team, and making friends.”

Click the video below to see a short video of Trisha Holmes sharing her experience of implementing Multimedia Advocacy and RIX Wikis in Croydon.

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