How accessible are our school computers? Please respond to the survey

On 31 October the Scottish Government published Guidance on “Planning improvements for disabled pupils’ access to education” which “describes the requirements the Act places on education authorities and schools to work to improve the education of disabled learners and to help ensure that they are properly included in, and able to benefit fully from, their school education.”

The Guidance contains two appendices that refer specifically to measures that local authorities should take to improve the accessibility of school ICT and computers. It covers things like installing the Scottish computer voices; having text-to-speech software available; providing access to control panels so that students with disabilities can make adjustments to enable access; etc. The document is available here: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Publications/2014/10/8011.

Now that the guidance is published, it will be helpful to get a snapshot of how accessible school computers are across the country, and what might need to be done to improve the accessibility of ICT used in schools.

Please help by completing the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/accessICT.

Thank you very much.

Ross High pupil, Fiona Scott to present at ICT workshop

6th year pupil, Fiona Scott will be demonstrating her excellent use of speech recognition software at and ICT workshop tomorrow in Edinburgh.  Originally Shirley Lawson was going to present the case study but Fiona has agreed to come and do a live demo – no mean feat!

Is Speech Recognition software finally beginning to realise it’s potential for learners with additional support needs?

This free workshop run by CALL Scotland and SQA will consider this question. Speech recognition systems are now freely available on Windows and MacOS computers and in mobile devices such as the iPad. At the same time, speech recognition is becoming of greater interest to schools as an alternative to scribes, given that scribes cannot be used for assessing writing in National Literacy assessments.

In this workshop we will review the tools available, including Windows 7 Speech Recognition; Dragon Naturally Speaking; iPad Siri; Google Voice Typing, and share experiences (both positive and negative) and, we hope, good practice.

The timetable is as follows:

  • 9.00: Coffee and registration
  • 9.30: Windows 7 Speech Recognition
    • Liz Fraser, Selkirk High School, will talk about a trial of the free built in Windows Speech Recognition that is currently running in Selkirk High School.
  • 10.00: Dragon Naturally Speaking
    • ​​Shirley Lawson, East Lothian, will present a case study about a pupil in S6 using Dragon Naturally Speaking.
    • Dianne Youngson, Dunblane High School will present a case study about a learner using Dragon in Higher assessments and exams.
  • 10.50: Comfort Break
  • 11.10: iOS Siri
    • ​​CALL staff will introduce this session and demonstrate Siri. There will be input from Emma Slavin from Balfron High School about using Siri with iReadWrite, and from other colleagues.
  • 11.40: Google Android
    • ​​​Craig Mill from CALL will give an overview of Google Now and Google Voice Typing.
  • ​12:10 Plenary Discussion

Information from this workshop will be reported back on this blog.

Support for young people with additional support needs

Futures fair-

The Futures Fair will be held on  Thursday 6th November at The Brunton Hall, Musselburgh.  It will be a drop in between 2pm and 5pm.

This information fair aims to help young people with additional support needs and their families plan for adult life.

There will be approximately 50 organisations who can tell you about what they offer and how they can help with:

  • Education
  • Work and training
  • Money advice
  • Social work and health
  • Social life and leisure    ….and much more!

For full details, have a look at the information poster here

 

Scottish Children’s Book Awards – accessible formats

The shortlisted titles for this year’s Scottish Children’s Book Awards were announced on August 28th by the Scottish Book Trust. The Book Awards scheme encourages children in schools throughout Scotland to read a selection of the best Scottish children’s books of the past year and to vote for their favourite in three age categories, Bookbug Readers (3 – 7), Younger Readers (8 – 11) and Older Readers (12 – 16). Here are this year’s shortlisted titles:

Bookbug Readers

  • Robot Rumpus by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Ross Collins
  • Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten by Alison Murray
  • Lost for Words by Natalie Russell

Younger Readers

  • Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion by Alexander McCall Smith
  • Pyrates Boy by E.B. Colin
  • Attack of the Giant Robot Chickens by Alex McCall

Older Readers

  • Mosi’s War by Cathy MacPhail
  • Dark Spell by Gill Arbuthnot
  • The Wall by William Sutcliffe

CALL Scotland has produced accessible versions of the shortlisted books to allow children with print disabilities (which make it hard for them to access a standard book) to take part in the scheme.  Read Allan Wilson’s excellent blog here for full details.

Easy game to help find the keys on the keyboard

Ideal game to encourage young pupils and those with additional support needs to find the keys on the keyboard.  Both the upper case and lower case letters are shown and there is a 30 second timer which gives the game speed and accuracy elements.

Try it out at Big Brown Bear.

 

National 3 Literacy unit – support without the use of a scribe

Scribes are not permitted as a reasonable adjustment when learners are required to show evidence of their writing skills in SQA National Literacy Units (see http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/64698.html) but the use of ICT is allowed:

“In order to minimise the disadvantage faced by some disabled learners in attaining the National Units in Literacy, the use of word processors and other assistive technologies such as screen readers, spell checkers or speech-recognition software would be acceptable as reasonable adjustments.”

(Specification 3 – Literacy Units http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/64702.html)

CALL Scotland have produced this excellent guide on what is required to meet the standard for National 3 Literacy Writing and what assistive technology can be used.  Click here to have a look.

Accessible National 4 and 5 Textbooks

Hodder Education have given CALL Scotland permission to make available CDs with accessible PDF versions of their books for pupils with print disabilities through the CALL Books for All web site.

Over the last few weeks they have received files for a number of textbooks for pupils taking Nationals 4 and 5. Titles are currently available for:

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • History
  • Geography
  • Modern Studies

Other subjects should be available shortly.

Hodder have also given CALL Scotland files for ‘How to Pass National 5’ books for a number of subjects.  Please contact them if you have any questions. 0131 651 6235