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.



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.

Short Breaks Fund Re-opens

This week saw the launch of the latest round of the Better Breaks funding programme.  The purpose of Better Breaks is to develop responsive and creative short break opportunities for disabled children and young people, and their families.

There has been an additional £100,000 added to the programme to be targeted at organisations providing services for families caring for a child or young person with learning disabilities. This brings the total to £1.3m to be distributed.

The deadline for applications is Wednesday 11th December 2013 at noon.

To date the Short Breaks Fund has funded over 22,000 separate breaks over two and a half years at an average cost of £293.

If you want to apply or know more then you can read the full guidance and accompanying notes on our website.

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 


Summer fun for young people with additional support needs


There is a variety of dedicated sports and leisure activities for children and young people aged 5 – 16 years with a range of disabilities.  These activities will feature higher levels of support from volunteers and provide personal care where required.  The support ratio will be 1 volunteer to 2 young people unless notification of 1:1 support is requested in advance. Siblings are also welcome to participate in these activities.  Have a look at the brochure ASN Summer Activities-1 for full list of activities and sign up details.

MOVE into action in East Lothian

MOVE (Mobility Opportunities via Education) is an innovative programme which combines therapy and education, for individuals who have physical and complex needs, to teach functional activities based on the skills of sitting, standing and walking.  This helps them to develop independence, to be able to take greater control of their lives and  to be more included in society.

Read the June 2011 MOVE newsletter to see what has been going on in East Lothian. We were one of the first Scottish authorities to sign up to MOVE and our practice in this area is part of the ongoing  commitment to innovative practice and multi-agency working, to secure the best outcomes for children and young people and to get it right for every child in the authority.

Playing music on the iPad

Francesca Borghi, a  Music Therapy student at Queen Margaret University gave an excellent presentation to staff at the Hub yesterday on her final year research project:  An investigation into the potential of the iPad in Music Therapy.  She had been motivated to research uses for the iPad after reading about Owen Cain, a young American boy with motor neurone disease whose limbs are all in slings but he can use a gentle touch and swipe action to access music, books and a variety of other apps.  Have a look at this amazing film clip.

Francesca has been working with Greta, a 6 year old girl with quadriplegic cerebal palsy.  Greta has severe visual, cognitive and communication impairment and associated seizure disorder.  She was able to effectively use a knuckle to engage with a variety of musical apps (iOrgel, Harmonizer, Holiday Bells,  Bongos, Magic Piano) on the iPad 2 while Francesca would sing or play the guitar.

We watched several film clips of Francesca playing music with Greta while her mother supported her head.  It had taken some time to build up a relationship of trust and from there real progress was apparent. Greta was able to choose which app she wanted to use by clicking on the icon with her knuckly.  She was clearly engaging with the music and enjoying herself.

The potential for use of the iPad for pupils with severe and complex learning needs is huge. These devices could be used by many pupils in a many different ways and supported easily by staff.  The management issues over accessing  the iTunes store on the school network to obtain apps needs to be overcome.