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.

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!

Which male voice is best?

For a young person using a communication aid, the quality and sound of a computer generated voice is very important.  The ‘Heather’ female voice was developed successfully and was popular for its authentic Scottish accent and tone.  But there was never a suitable male equivalent voice.

After much petitioning and campaigning to address this inequality, Scottish Government have awarded CALL Scotland funding to work with Cereproc to develop a male Scottish Voice, a ‘brother’ for the Heather voice. 

Other purposes for computer generated voice output are:

  • reading  of SQA digital exam papers
  • reading back text composed in Word with WordTalk
  • reading digital books and other materials

CALL Scotland have ‘audition’ pieces from six actors, any one of whom could provide the voice that will be used on computers in schools, colleges and other centres throughout Scotland. They are asking for your help to decide the ‘best’ voice, from which the computer voice will be created.

CALL  have set up a PDF with samples of the voices which you can download from: http://www.thescottishvoice.org.uk/Brother-for-Heather/Assets/Downloads/form.pdf

 Open the PDF with Adobe Reader and then you can click on the different samples to hear the voice. If you want to hear a sample twice, zoom in a bit because the ‘Play’ button is a bit tiny.  Once you have completed the form you can email your comments, and most importantly, score the voices in order of preference to Paul.Nisbet@ed.ac.uk 

Your help is much appreciated.

Adapted Digital Exams

Adapted Digital Exams – East Lothian pilot

Candidates with additional support needs sitting SQA exams, currently have access to a variety of assessment arrangements which allow them to demonstrate their skills and knowledge e.g. reader, scribe or extra time.

A new assessment arrangement has recently become available. This gives candidates an opportunity to sit digitally adapted question papers provided by the SQA. Candidates with difficulty accessing a standard exam paper as a result of visual, physical, reading or writing difficulties, can now insert answers directly on to the question/answer paper on screen and use speech technology to have text read out.

East Lothian secondary schools are piloting adapted digital exams with a number of candidates this session.

CALL Scotland, SQA, East Lothian ICT officers and Inclusion & Equality section are supporting

this development. It is anticipated that Adapted Digital Exam formats will be available to increasing numbers of East Lothian SQA candidates in future.

For further information on Assessment Arrangements see the SQA site.

Thanks to Linda Gaughan (Inclusion and Equality Officer) writing in the ICT Education Newsletter.