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

 

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

 

 

ICT and Inclusion

I attended the ICT and Inclusion Day at the CALL Centre last week. It was an ideal opportunity to  see the latest hardware and software and hear practical, information-packed, short presentations on a wide range of topics all geared towards learners with additional support for learning needs. I was able to  meet and network with colleagues, make some interesting new contacts and chat with presenters and suppliers.

Workshop 1BOOKS FOR ALL

School and authorites are obliged under Disability and Equality legislation to consider how they can provide learning resources in accessible formats for pupils with disabilities. CALL Scotland have created a database of books currently available and provide training on how to adapt books.   Hodder Gibson are offering free digital copies of their resources subject to a print copy having been bought and also subject to very strict copyright terms and conditions.  Action:   I am keen to establish how we take this forward in East Lothian and ensure pupils can be provided with  books in an alternative formats when required.  Do we have a Print Disability Copyright Licence?

Workshop 2Age Appropriate ICT resources for older students with complex needs

Fil McIntyre from BRITE Centre reviewed some resources (keyboards, mice, switches) that are not highly coloured or involve gimmicky animals and therefore would suit older students.  The exception was for visually impaired students who often prefer bright colours and colour contrasts.  Action: Identifying software and reading material that is age and ability appropriate.

Workshop 3: Read and Write Gold 10 demo

This assistive software is designed to help those with dyslexia, literacy difficulties and English as a second language.  The PDF Aloud feature converts text to speech and the writing support tools allows users to study independently in an inclusive environment. We have a site licence for  high schools in East Lothian so it’s  installed on all computers but may be an underused resource.   Action:  Cost the upgrade to R & W Gold 10; arrange training sessions for SfL staff

Workshop 4:  Optelec – visually impaired hardware

We were shown a range of powerful hand held magnifiers and braille notetakers.  They were very similar to the Humanware products that have been bought for visually impaired and blind pupils in East Lothian.  Action: Share this information with Visually impaired service.

Workshop 5: iPods and iPads for Communication

A variety of communication apps have been created to enable pupils to communicate using voice output.  There are a number of downsides to consider… even top of the range AAC app Proloquo2go has no alternate access options (key guards, scanning) and the UK voice choices are not great. It would be ideal if you could install Heather and the Scottish male voice that is currently being developed.

 Photo Story and Communication passport apps allow photos, videos, audio and text into a book format. The iPad having a larger screen makes this more visually appealing and easier to read but the iPod touch for portability is ideal for other users.  Action: Continue to pursue issue of obtaining access to iTunes store on school network so I can get some devices out to pupils to try out these apps. The idea being these popular mainstream devices are cost effective communication aids and almost as importantly, are very cool!!

Symbolising the environment: Using symbols to aid communication

LTScotland reports on an interesting region-wide project to incorporate symbols into mainstream schools in Fife.

Fife Assessment Centre for Communication through Technology (FACCT) is a Fife-wide service supporting clients for whom speech is not their main means of communication.

Symbols are images which are used to make meanings clearer and easier to understand by providing a visual representation of a single word or a concept. It is important to understand that symbols are different from pictures. A picture conveys a lot of information at once and its focus may be unclear, whereas a symbol focuses on a single concept and by grouping them together more precise information can be conveyed.

Initially, staff became aware that using symbols consistently in a mainstream class was not only supporting a child with an identified learning disability but was meeting the needs of many children who had no recognised learning or communication impairment. Symbols packs were developed and offered to classes throughout the school and were quickly taken up by other members of the teaching staff as they realised the benefits they brought to pupils’ overall development.

There is a consistent approach to the symbols used in all the establishments involved. This ensures that pupils transferring from one environment to another are familiar with any symbols in use, no matter which establishment they are in.

The chosen symbol software package used to create the resources was Mayer-Johnson’s ‘Boardmaker’.

Examples of the use of symbols include:

 • anti-bullying materials •

rights respecting schools information

• conflict resolution methods

• ‘goal -plan -do -review’

• The Mathematics and Home Economic Departments began using symbols to help pupils establish a routine once they entered the classroom. This supported a positive ethos within the classroom.

• Directional symbols are being developed to help S1 pupils and any visitors to the building

• Symbols are used in the main reception area of the school

• Pupils use personalised symbolised timetables.

Books for All Scotland event

Stirling Management Centre, 18 March 2011

Learning and Teaching Scotland, in partnership with CALL Scotland are hosting this learning day.

The purposes of the conference are:

·         to support teachers, early years practitioners and senior managers to improve access to the curriculum for pupils with print disabilities who need print to be in accessible alternative formats.

·         to give strategic managers and practitioners the chance to learn about these developments and discuss how to implement them in their own context to ensure best value

·         to encourage individuals in their authorities to share their learning with colleagues to sustain and expand work in this area.

Significant developments have taken place to make it easier for pupils and teachers to find existing accessible resources, to use them with pupils, to make them if they don’t already exist and to share them under new copyright arrangements. These developments will help authorities and schools to meet their equality and accessibility responsibilities.

LTS plans to involve colleagues from Scottish Government, HMIE, CALL Scotland, SQA, CLA, RNIB and publishers as well as managers and practitioners. This partnership event is aimed at both educational practitioners and strategic personnel.

 To reserve a place at this event please contact Anne Marie Lamont at a.lamont@LTScotland.org.uk.

‘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?

Sharing news and ideas

Happy New Year to all!

Another year starts and information overload will continue.  We need to find a way to access the valuable stuff and share it with all interested parties.  Is it going to be this blog or on Glow?  Or both? 

Subscribe to this blog by adding your email address to the box on the right hand side of page.  You will receive an email alert when a new post is added, saving you time and reminding you that the Support for All blog exists and that you too can share news here.  

Obviously you can’t subscribe to the email feed if you don’t get this far and are reading this post so please pass on the information to anyone who is involved with pupils with additional needs. Thanks!

Just Support For Learning?

December’s Children in Scotland magazine contains an article I have written about this being a good time to consider if current support for learning practices are actually achieving what we want them to. You can read the article here Just Support For Learning.  I would be interested to learn your thoughts on the issues it raises.

 The  December Children in Scotland   magazine has a focus on protecting children’s services in tough times. (There may be a small charge to access the whole magazine – but you can read my article for free).

Liz Herd