‘Books for All’

CALL Scotland¬† recently ran this course in East Lothian – we’re all really enthusiastic and I’ll try to summarise here.

‘Books for All is about learning materials in accessible, alternative formats, for people who have difficulty reading ordinary printed books.

Most people think of Braille and Large Print when they think of alternative formats but in fact there are many more types of accessible textbooks, workbooks, worksheets, assessment and examination papers and other learning resources.

Similarly, it is commonly assumed that the pupils who need alternative formats are blind and partially sighted. In fact, there are many other groups of “print-disabled” pupils who can benefit from learning resources in alternative formats. For example:

Students who have a physical difficulty with holding books or turning pages can benefit from audio books or materials in a digital format on the computer.
Students with specific learning difficulties, dyslexia, or reading difficulties can read material if it is printed in a larger or different font, or on coloured paper, or displayed on computer. Many pupils with reading difficulties can also access information by listening to audio books, or by having the text read out by a computer.
Students with learning difficulties may benefit from simplified language, books printed in a simpler font or layout, or from books with symbols, or from audio books.
Students with hearing impairment may need simplified language, audio books or multimedia resources with signed video.’

At the course we learned about the copyright law and how to use a variety of free software to create accessible materials for our students. Many of these facilities are embedded in Microsoft Word.

We found out how to add comments to text, use document maps and headings, add recorded voice to text and loads more. The Scottish Voice (Heather), WordTalk and sources of free texts made this course really valuable. Now all I need to do is work my way through then CD rom and workbook!

Tunes to get you in the “skoog”


Researchers have created unique technology to help give disabled people the power to express themselves in music

A new musical instrument, unofficially called the “skoog” and shaped like a toddler’s toy cube, has been invented for children with special needs by a team based at Edinburgh University.

The researchers claim the technology marks a world-first in its ability to give disabled children – or adults – real power of expression in their music-making.

Now that the prototype has been developed, a company, with the support of Scottish Enterprise, will to be set up to bring it to the commercial market.

Skoog’s public launch is expected to take place at a Tapestry conference at Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in May, when 1,000 children will perform music on an Afro-Scottish theme, led by pupils from Hillside and Park special schools in East Ayrshire.