A guide to the Assistive Software on school computers

Assistive software on ELC school computers

Please have a look at this guide which gives a short description of the assistive software available on East Lothian Council school computers. For many students with additonal support needs the use of technology is really important for them to become independent learners.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

slawson@eastlothian.gov.uk

 

ICT and Literacy Seminar: 10th December

CALL Scotland are running an ICT and Literacy Seminar on Wednesday 10th December, 9.30am-1pm.

This FREE event will explore how technology can be used to support learners with additional support needs in assessment of literacy skills. They will look at tools and techniques such as text-to-speech software for accessing reading texts, and for writing, such as spellcheckers, word prediction and speech recognition.

This will be a really worthwhile session to attend either in person or via webinar (details to sign up on the link above).  I can feedback to all afterwards as I will be going.

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.

Ease your reading problems by listening to the text instead

We have Word Talk installed on all school computers which allows text in a Word document to be spoken back.  Word Talk (as the name suggests) only works with Microsoft Word.

 All the high schools had Read and Write Gold 8 software which offered this text to speech functionality plus many other useful literacy support tools. With the move to Windows 7 computers, Read and Write Gold is no longer fully compatible and the cost to upgrade is prohibitively expensive.

 Ivona MiniReader is a free simple text reader which adds a floating toolbar on the screen and can read out text from almost any program – Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, Google Docs, web pages etc.. MiniReader can use the free Scottish voice Heather and Stuart and most other voices on your computer. 

It is hoped to remotely install it onto all East Lothian school computers but if you would like to try it out prior to this universal install then please email slawon@eastlothian.gov.uk  I have instructions to issue on how it works and how it can be best used.

ICT and Inclusion Day at CALL – June 14

 Coming to  Edinburgh in June 2012 ICT and Inclusion is Scotland’s leading annual exhibition with a focus on the use of ICT to support learners with additional suppport needs. This year’s roadshows are being held at CALL Scotland, University of Edinburgh, 14th June CALL Scotland and BRITE, the organisers of the event, have arranged for up to 25 of the UK’s leading suppliers of software and technology to support students with additional support needs to take part in the exhibition and to give a short presentation on their latest products. 

There will also be short presentations by staff from BRITE, CALL and local schools, colleges and services, illustrating the use of technology to support learning. Equipment and software on display may be of interest to adults with disabilities and the people who support them. It’s Free! The days are free to attend and run from 8.45  until 4 pm. Lunch is provided for people who book in advance.

 There will be a prize draw at the end of each day, with prizes including software, iPad apps and other worthwhile items. Make sure you stay until the end of the day to have a chance to win a prize!

Book online at www.ictandinclusion.org.uk 

 

ICT and Inclusion Day at CALL Centre, 14th June

Can you vouch for the fact that using ICT to support pupils with additional support needs in your class/school is making a difference?  Would you be prepared to share your story with other practioners?

 The CALL Centre (based at Moray House, University of Edinburgh) are looking for one East Lothian school to give a 30 minute presentation at their ICT and Inclusion Day on the 14th June, illustrating how ICT (software or hardware) has been used to help pupils with additional support needs in the school. Teachers are welcome to involve a small number of pupils in the presentation, if this is appropriate.  Please contact Allan Wilson allan.wilson@ed.ac.uk or call him on 0131 651 6068.

Not sure if you want to do a presentation but would like to share your story less formally?  Email Shirley Lawson for a chat. slawson@eastlothian.gov.uk

 

 

Family Fun Day at the CALL Centre: March 26

Run by specialist staff, this FREE day is a chance for families of children with ASN to try out and learn about the software, hardware and specialised communication technologies that might help support them.  Professionals are also welcome if they are accompanying a child/family.  Read more details on the website.

Another date for your diary….  15 JUNE…. also at the CALL Centre

Come along to an exhibition of technology to assist students with Additional Support Needs.  Up to 20 of the UK’s leading suppliers of software and assistive technology will be exhibiting and giving short presentations on their latest products.

‘Absences leave holes in learning’

“Most school systems are based on the assumption that learning is sequential and successful outcomes are the result of regular attendance.”  John Howson in TES (14/01/11)

The disruptions in attendance experienced by teachers and pupils due to the recent weather and now flu viral outbreaks have brought this home only too well. The coming months will demonstrate how well  teachers and pupils are able to bridge the holes.

Howson’s analysis of available data suggests that “the percentage of special educational needs (SEN) pupils who are classified as persistent absentees is always higher than the average for all pupils.”

“..for those who want to come to school but cannot do so, often for reasons of illness, we need to find a way of ensuring technology can help.”

Not every home is equipped with the technology to ensure all young people are included even when they are ill but many do. School edubuzz blogs had some lovely suggestions for activities during the snow closures. Teachers and pupils can keep others informed and included while they are absent with illness through the use of imaginative Apps/ photos /videos,etc. Try www.wallwisher.com ; www.glogster.com. Any other ideas?

Ipads and disability

Ipads will be on many children’s Christmas list this year mainly because of advertised hype and the perceived ‘cool factor’ of possessing the latest Apple product.    It will keep children amused for a certain amount of time but depending on the apps installed, they will likely gravitate back to their laptop.

But for some children – and adults – the iPad could prove invaluable. Read this article which appeared in the New York Times about Owen Cain who has had motor neurone disease from infancy.  His parents say he is a normal boy trapped in a abnormal body.  “We have spent all this time keeping him alive, and now we owe him more than that,” said his mother, Ellen Goldstein, “I see his ability to communicate and to learn as a big part of that challenge — not all of it, but a big part of it.

The iPad has been a tremendous breakthrough and opens up endless possibilities.  So many of it’s features ideally suit those who have limited movements, hearing and sight.  Owen can have his arm hoisted into a position which allows him, with the lightest of touches, to read a book by flicking over the pages.  He even typed up, ” I want to be Han Solo for Hallowe’en” using the onscreen keyboard.

Read the story, watch the video.  It’s made me think, wonder, cry and plan.