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

 

Useful, quick tips for teaching dyslexic learners

1. Praise Gives Power; Criticism Kills

A dyslexic person needs to have confidence to learn and overcome their difficulties. Because they have experienced failure, deep down they don’t believe they are capable of learning.

Re-establish self-confidence.
Provide the opportunity to succeed.
Give praise for small achievements.

Dyslexics need constant praise and support. You worked hard! You did well! WOW! That's really good!

2.  Don’t ask a dyslexic to read aloud

Words are likely to be misread or skipped, causing embarrassment.

3. Don’t punish a dyslexic for forgetting things like books or sports kit

Offer positive strategies such as having one place to put things away.

4. Don’t call a dyslexic lazy

Dyslexics have to work harder to produce a smaller amount.

Dyslexics have difficulty staying focused when reading, writing or listening.

5. Expect less written work

A dyslexic may be verbally bright but struggle to put ideas into writing.

Allow a dyslexic more time for reading, listening and understanding.

6. Prepare a printout of homework and stick it in their book

Provide numbered steps, e.g. 1. Do this. 2. Do that etc.

7. Do not expect a dyslexic to copy text from a board or book

Give a printout. Suggest they highlight key areas and draw thumbnail pictures in the margin to represent the most important points.

Do not expect a dyslexic to copy text from a board or book

8. Accept homework created on a computer

Physical handwriting is torture for most dyslexics. Word processors make life much easier. Allow them to use the Spell checker and help with grammar and punctuation so that you can see the quality of the content.

9. Discuss an activity to make sure it is understood

Visualising the activity or linking it to a funny action may help dyslexics remember.

10. Give the opportunity to answer questions orally

Dyslexics can often demonstrate their understanding with a spoken answer but are unable with to put those ideas in writing.

All credit to  the Nessy website for these useful tips.  You can find further information and support for Teachers, Parents/Carers and students on this site.

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.

Struggling to read a web page? Try Ivona mini reader

ivona

Many students have difficulty reading text. If they are using a computer they can have support to do this using Ivona MiniReader.

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.

This should be in the Applications Folder on all school computers: PCs, Thin Clients, laptops and netbooks.  If it is not, please log a call with ITServiceDesk@eastlothian.gov.uk to request it. It can be installed remotely.

Remind students to bring in headphones!

National Literacy Units – why scribes cannot be used and what alternatives have we?

The SQA states:

In relation to the National Literacy Units at all levels:

(i) exemption from demonstrating any of the four assessed skills of reading,  writing, listening or talking will not be a reasonable adjustment and (ii)  using human readers and scribes will not be reasonable adjustments where reading  and writing abilities are being explicitly assessed.

The rationale behind this is that the provision of a human reader and/or a human scribe would  undermine the fundamental assessment objectives for reading and writing and  would not secure that the National Units in Literacy provided a reliable  indication of the knowledge and skills of the candidate upon whom they are  conferred. It would not be possible to maintain public confidence in the  National Units in Literacy if learners are given  credit for ‘reading’ and ‘writing’ when that  process has been carried out by someone else.

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.

I have been doing some testing with the in-built speech recognition on a Windows 7 Lenovo ThinkPad E530.  I used an Andrea USB Mono headset and from a test yesterday think the correct headset makes a huge difference.  Have a look at the short video clip here to see it working.  (slightly wobbly filming as was self-videoing)

It’s not perfect as I excitedly stated in the video clip but it’s good and could be something that could benefit many of our students.  Could this be a possibility for them to use instead of dictating to a scribe for the Literacy Unit assessment?

You can try it for yourself on a Windows 7 laptop or PC.  Click on the Start icon then type in ‘Speech Recognition’ in the Search box.  Work your way through the set up – I skipped the tutorial and so did no ‘training’ of my voice and still got very good results.

Let me know what you think!

A new font is available for dyslexic learners

OpenDyslexic is a new open sourced font created to increase readability for readers with dyslexia. The typeface includes regular, bold, italic, and bold-italic styles.

OpenDyslexic is created to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. Letters have heavy weighted bottoms to indicate direction. You are able to quickly figure out which part of the letter is down which aids in recognising the correct letter, and sometimes helps to keep your brain from rotating them around. Consistently weighted bottoms can also help reinforce the line of text. The unique shapes of each letter can help prevent confusion through flipping and swapping.

This font has been installed remotely on all school computers.  It should appear in the long list of fonts offered in Word.  Please contact the IT Service Desk (ITServiceDesk@eastlothian.gov.uk) if you do not have it installed and you would  like to try it out.  Any other questions, please contact Shirley Lawson (slawson@eastlothian.gov.uk)

 

 

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.

East Lothian Support for Learning Conference 13 – 15 June

On the 13th – 15th of June, support for learning teachers from across the authority will gather for a conference in Haddington. The theme of the event is supporting pupils in mainstream classes. The wide and varied programme includes sessions delivered by staff from our school as well as presentations from Dr Margaret Crombie on Dyslexia and Moira Park, DHT at New Struan School. The conference also offers teachers an opportunity to share ideas and issues away from the demands of school.

For further information, contact Linda Gaughan lgaughan@eastlothian.gov.uk