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By Sally Millar on Thursday 29th August, 2013 at 1:00pm

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I have just come across the free App Tellagami

It has lots of useful and fun uses for both AAC development and education. You can quickly and easily create an animated single page short picture story by choosing backgrounds (you can take or import your own photos) and customising your avatar/character. Stories can be recorded in or typed in and spoken via text to speech (30 seconds). Stories can then be saved and shared via email, Facebook, Twitter, SMS text.

Video tutorial here, showing it used to support reading fluency. Lots of good ideas here at the wonderful PrAACtical AAC site about how to use Tellagami with pupils and AAC users


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Higher set Scottish Texts on the Books for All Database

By Paul Nisbet on Monday 19th August, 2013 at 11:14am

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We have scanned and uploaded most of the Higher Scottish set texts to the Books for All Database and so they are now available for any of your learners who have print disabilities. The books are PDF files so they can be read on almost any device - Windows or Mac computers, iPads, Android tablets etc. They have been scanned from paper originals and converted to readable text using an automatic optical character recognition process, so there may be some errors in the text, but they look pretty accurate to me. Together with the digital versions of the set texts for National 5 we uploaded in July, these files should help learners get to grips with this session's English courses.

I've also searched for commerical eBook versions of the set texts, and the table below gives you links to both the eBook and scanned books on the Database.

The Books for All web site has quick guides on reading PDFs, and there are also some video guides.  


Amazon Kindle

iTunes Books

RM Books

Books for All Database

The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil by John McGrath




The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil

Men Should Weep by Ena Lamont Stewart




Men Should Weep

The Slab Boys by John Byrne




In progress






Short stories by Iain Crichton Smith.

The Red Door, The Telegram, Mother and Son, In Church, The Painter, The Crater


(All in The Red Door:  The Complete English Stories 1949-76)

Listen to the Voice, £7.56

Listen to the Voice, £8.99


Listen to the Voice

The Black Halo: The Complete English Stories 1977-98

The Red Door: The Complete English Stories 1949-76

The Cone-Gatherers by Robin Jenkins

The Cone-Gatherers, £4.63

The Cone-Gatherers, £8.99


The Cone Gatherers

Short stories by George Mackay Brown.

A Time to Keep, The Bright Spade, The Wireless Set, The Whaler’s Return, The Eye of the Hurricane, Tartan.


(All in A Time to Keep and other stories)

A Time to Keep, £5.49



A Time to Keep


In progress

Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Sunset Song, £1.39

Sunset Song, free


Sunset Song

The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway

The Trick is to Keep Breathing, £6.17

The Trick is to Keep Breathing, £6.49


The Trick is to Keep Breathing






Carol Ann Duffy.

War Photographer,  Havisham, Valentine,

Originally, Anne Hathaway,

Mrs Midas

(All in New Selected Poems 1984-2004)




New Selected Poems: 1984-2004

Norman MacCaig.

Sounds of the Day, Assisi, Visiting Hour, Memorial, Aunt Julia, Basking Shark

(All in The Poems of Norman MacCaig)

The Poems of Norman MacCaig, £7.91

The Poems of Norman MacCaig, £11.99


The Poems of Norman MacCaig

Sorley MacLean.

Hallaig, Screapadal, Heroes, Shores, An Autumn Day, I gave you Immortality.

(All in Sorley MacLean: Collected Poems)

Sorley MacLean: Collected Poems, £14.40

Sorley MacLean: Collected Poems, £21.99


Sorley MacLean: Collected Poems

Don Paterson.

Waking with Russell, The Thread, 11:00: Baldovan, Two Trees, The Ferryman’s Arms, Nil Nil

(All in Don Paterson: Selected Poems)

Don Paterson: Selected Poems, £5.99

Don Paterson: Selected Poems, £9.99


Don Paterson: Selected Poems

Liz Lochhead.

The Bargain, My Rival’s House, View of Scotland/Love Poem, Some Old Photographs, For my Grandmother Knitting, Last Supper

(All in A Choosing)

Dreaming Frankestein & Collected Poems, £6.96

(does not include View of Scotland or Some Old Photographs)

Dreaming Frankestein & Collected Poems, £7.99

(does not include View of Scotland or Some Old Photographs)


A Choosing

Robert Burns.

Holy Willie’s Prayer, Tam O’ Shanter, To a Mouse, A Poet’s Welcome to his Love-Begotten Daughter, Address to the Deil, A Man’s a Man for a’ That

Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, free

Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, free

Poems and Songs of Robert Burns, free

Poems and Songs of Robert Burns.PDF

Poems and Songs of Robert Burns.DOC




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free AAC App

By Sally Millar on Friday 26th July, 2013 at 2:58pm

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Just to let folks know that there has been a major new update to the AbleNet AAC App Sounding Board. It is a free App anyway and the update is free via the App Store.

Sounding Board has always been an attractive option because (as well as being free) and offering all the 'standard' functions of communication and choices by touching pictures, imported photos, linked boards etc., and output through recorded speech, it is one of the few AAC Apps that also offer (1) audio prompts, and (2) switch and scan access. However it had limitations and a slightly 'dated' look to it, previously.

This latest version is much improved, for example:

  • New more modern looking and more intuitive interface
  • Now works in landscape mode as well as portrait
  • Boards can now contain up to 20 locations (used to be 9) - and you just add messages and leave it to save itself and configure the layout, instead of choosing a pre-determined layout before you start
  • Optimised for all versions of iPad , iPhone or iPad Touch
  • User data collection faciity (it tracks activations of each board and each individual symbol/picture)
  • Can export boards and share the file by email. BUT - note that this does NOT work with boards made in earlier versions of Sounding Board, but only with new boards created in Version 4. (However, don't panic - boards made in your earlier version will run fine after you've upgraded to V.4 - they just won't export.) 
  • Can import  boards from other users/devices and/or buy and import pre-made boards as in-app purchases ($0.69 each) So far the few boards on offer are single 9 location boards (not linked board systems); it is not clear what future plans might be for possibly increasing the range of boards available). 


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Calling all Scottish AAC users!

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 9th July, 2013 at 10:58am

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Do you use AAC?  Do you know someone who uses AAC (over 15 yrs.)? Please book up NOW and come along on 19th August to a fantastic event at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh. The fabulous 'Lost Voice Guy', Lee Ridley -  the first Stand Up Comedian to use AAC - will be doing a one-off gig for Scottish AAC Users. PLEASE PASS THIS INFORMATION ON

This is a UNIQUE opportunity to have a laugh with Lee, meet up with other AAC Users, and have a great day out in the height of the summer in the Festival City!

It's FREE and lunch is included. For more details and to book a place please email or call 0131 651 6068. Or download a booking form here, and mail it in. You can also book a place online. Book early in case it fills up!


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National 5 English Set Scottish Texts on the Books for All Database

By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 3rd July, 2013 at 5:05pm

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Back in March I gave a presentation at the Developing Teachers in a Post-PC Era conference that we organised with Apple UK, where I suggested that one of the potential benefits of more learners using more new mobile technologies (iPads, tablets, mobiles etc) was that digital books and curriculum resources would become more common. This will be good for pupils who struggle with print because there will be more pupils wanting digital formats and therefore we are likely to see more being produced (as long as the commercial eBooks from Amazon, iTunes, RM Books etc etc are actually accessible to pupils with print disabilities, which is another story).

So, as an exercise to see how well prepared we all are for this shiny new digital age, I searched to see which of the National 5 Set Scottish texts were actually available in digital format. I found that there were some significant gaps, which is a bit disappointing given the first National 5 exams will be delivered next session. 

The good news though, is that we have scanned most of the books and they are now available free of charge, for pupils with print disabilities, on or via the Books for All Database!

To save you the trouble searching for them either on the commercial sites or on B4ASD, we've done it for you:


Amazon Kindle iTunes Books RM Books Books for All Database
Bold Girls, by Rona Monro - - -

PDF to follow

Large Print (28pt)

Sailmaker, by Alan Spence - - -



Tally's Blood, by Ann Marie di Mambro - - - Not yet - in progress


Short stories (a selection) by Iain Crichton Smith  Listen to the Voice Listen to the Voice -

Listen to the Voice PDF

The Black Halo: The Complete English Stories 1977-98 PDF

The Red Door: The Complete English Stories 1949-76 PDF

Hieroglyphics and Other Stories (a selection) by Anne Donovan - - - Hieroglyphics and Other Stories PDF
The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson Yes - - The Testament of Gideon Mack PDF
Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson Yes Yes Yes



Carol Ann Duffy Yes, various Yes, various   New Selected Poems: 1984-2004
Edwin Morgan Yes, various Yes, various   New Selected Poems (Poetry pleiade)
Norman MacCaig Yes, various The Poems of Norman MacCaig   Not yet - in progress
Jackie Kay Yes, various Yes, various   Not yet - in progress



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School holidays are here!

By Sally Millar on Wednesday 3rd July, 2013 at 2:04pm

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Two dogs staring at each other and one is saying to the other: I had my own blog for a while, but I decided to go back to just pointless, incessant barking.


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PDF Reader for People with a Visual Impairment

By Allan Wilson on Tuesday 2nd July, 2013 at 5:33pm

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Screenshot showing options for re-formatting text.The Swiss National Association of and for the Blind (SNAB) have produced what they describe as the first PDF reader for visually impaired people. VIP PDF-Reader is available free of charge for Windows, Mac and Linux, and also in a number of languages - English, French, German and Italian - from their web site.

The program 'strips out' the text from a PDF document and places it in a new window where the text can be magnified and the user can choose appropriate colours for the text and the background. The annoying line-breaks that you usually get if you copy and paste text from a PDF are removed, allowing the text to re-flow naturally as you zoom in to enlarge it. Note that the size of the text in the document and in the user interface can both be controlled, but in separate locations. Other useful features include the ability to change line, word and character spacing, and to change the font used in the document. Nine fonts are available, including Tiresias (designed for people with low vision) and the OpenDyslexic font.

Table of Contents

Screenshot showing Table of ContentsIf the PDF has been formatted for accessibility with appropriate styles for headings for sections, chapters, etc., VIP-PDF Reader will extract these headings to create a table of contents for ease of navigation. If the text in the table is too small to read, remember that it can be enlarged through the View menu.

No Text-to-Speech

The main drawback of the program is the lack of any text-to-speech facility, which means that it is most useful for people with low vision, rather than blind people, people with dyslexia or people with learning disabilities. People with dyslexia or learning disabilities can still take advantage of some of its excellent features if it is used in conjunction with a free text to speech program such as Ivona Mini Reader or NaturalReader, which both work well with it.


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More Maths books now on the Books for All Database

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 2nd July, 2013 at 2:38pm

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Large Print Maths books

Thanks to Caroline Jamieson in Moray for some new Large Print maths books: 

  • Chapters 11 to 22 of TeeJay's new Curriculum for Excellence Level 1b book, in 20 point print (to add to the first half of the book);
  • Heinemann Higher Maths (ediion 1), also in 20 point Large Print.

Click here to see these books on the Database.

These books can be printed out, or read and accessed directly on screen. Because the font size is large to begin with, they work very well on devices with small screens, because learners do not need to zoom in to enlarge the text. They are 'reader-enabled' PDF files so pupils can type their answers directly oin top of the PDF.  







Scottish Secondary Mathematics

We also have scanned digital copies of the seven Heinemann Scottish Secondary Mathematics books: B1, B2, G1, G2, R1, R2 and R3.

Like most of the books we adapt here in CALL, they were done for pupils with physical disabilites where the main objective is to have digital copies that look like the original, so that the learner can find their way round the book using a laptop or tablet.

But since you can use text-to-speech to read the text, and zoom in to enlarge it, they may also be useful for learners with reading of visual difficulties. The books are also 'reader-enabled' so students can add bookmarks, highlight the text, add sticky notes and other annotations to aid study.

Click here to see these books.


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Last of the SHM maths books now on the Books for All Database

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 2nd July, 2013 at 1:38pm

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The latest additions to the Books for All Database are Scottish Heinemann Maths 6 and 7 Textbooks, Extension Textbooks and Assessment Books. This completes the set we think of the SHM books. These titles have all been scanned and then adapted with answer boxes. In some cases extra pages have been added where there was no space to fit the answer boxes on the page, or to add in graph paper for drawing. The books were originally made for learners with physical disability or handwriting difficulties, so that they can just type their answers on screen, but pupils with dyslexia or reading difficulties might also find them useful because the text can be read out by the computer (not always accurately - there will be some recognition errors from the scanning), while learners with visual impairment can zoom in and magnify the text. We have also heard that some pupils on the autistic spectrum find the digital books more accessible than the paper versions. Click here to see all of these adapted new SHM books.

Thanks to Rebecca and Sarah here in CALL, and to our hard working volunteers from George Heriot's School, for adapting these and for drawing in the 7,454 answer boxes for the SHM 6 and 7 titles - all by hand!

On a computer, use the free Adobe Reader or Foxit Reader to type answers in, or even record audio answers, and also to draw and to measure dimensions and angles. Download a quick guide here.

On an iPad, you can use the free Adobe Reader app, but you are probably better off with PDF Expert, which has better tools for typing answers and annotating PDFs. (If you have an iPad 3. Mini or later, try dictating your answers using Siri - it works pretty well (for me....)).

Please let us know what you think of these adapted books - they have taken a lot of effort to produce and we have had good feedback so far, but it would be good to get more from staff, learners and parents.


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New blog by parent of a Scottish child who uses AAC

By Sally Millar on Monday 1st July, 2013 at 6:39pm

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Great new blog started up recently by the Mum of a lass who uses AAC. Terrific for other parents and families but also many valuable insights for professionals. Current topics include preparing well-ahead for transition from mainstream Primary to Secondary school.


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British Sign Language courses at Donaldsons

By Sally Millar on Monday 1st July, 2013 at 12:04pm

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Courses in British Sign Language (BSL)  (Intro.; Level 1; Level 2) are available for the coming session, see the options provided at Donaldson's School (Linlithgow), starting September 2013. These are always popular, so book early if you're interested.

Obviously, BSL is primarily used by / with Deaf people, and it is also a fascinating language to study in its own right. It is said that there are more users of BSL in the UK than of Welsh or Gaelic.

BSL is the foundation of both Makaton and Signalong, sign systems used with people who may not be deaf but who have learning difficulties and/or complex communication support needs. So if you want to get ahead of the game and be an ace teacher / helper / communication partner for someone who is learning and using  one of these sign systems, a firm foundation in BSL would stand you in very good stead.


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What do users think of 'Heather' the Scottish voice?

By Sally Millar on Monday 1st July, 2013 at 10:29am

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Take a few minutes to listen to this lovely BBC interview with Eilidh, a young lass who uses a communication aid. As well as hearing from Eilidh, the interview also showcases a very thoughtful Mum, and 'Heather' the great Scottish voice distributed by CALL Scotland. 

The interview is thought-provoking in many ways. Eilidh did really well, to manage to get a word in edgeways across the conversation going on.  And apparently there was little time to prepare, so Eilidh's responses were not pre-prepared but generated on the spot. The interview also underlined how the quality of synthetic voices is so much higher - and therefore so are our expectations of them - than just a few years ago. 

Eilidh's Mum now tells me that since the interview, Eilidh has reflected that she does not think of Heather as her own voice (she's already got her own voice!) but as 'the computer's voice' (the one she likes best).

Lots of positive praise for the Heather voice, in the interview. But also some criticism of Heather's 'diction'  - which, by the way, we'll be looking into, as CALL has undertaken to feed back to CereProc, the developers, any problems that arise. First step is to make sure any device has the latest version of the voice installed. Speak to Robert at CALL if you're not sure.



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Scottish Children's Book Awards

By Allan Wilson on Friday 21st June, 2013 at 10:40am

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The Scottish Book Trust have announced the Shortlisted titles for each of the categories for the 2013 Scottish Children's Book Awards:

Bookbug Readers (3 - 7 years)

  • Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson
  • What's the Time Mr Wolf? by Debi Gliori
  • Jumblebum by Chae Strathie and Ben Cort

Younger Readers (8 - 11 years)

  • Black Tide by Caroline Clough
  • The Accidental Time Traveller by Janis Mackay
  • Really Weird by Daniela Sacerdoti

Older Readers (11 - 16 years)

  • The Seeing by Diana Hendry
  • The Book of Doom by Barry Hutchison
  • Ferryman by Claire McFall

It looks like a great selection of titles in each category, demonstrating the strength in depth of writing for children in Scotland at the moment.

CALL will be creating accessible copies of the shortlisted books in each category in a variety of formats for children who have difficulties with reading standard text. We hope that these will be ready at, or shortly after, the start of next session.


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ICT and Inclusion - Informative and inspirational

By Allan Wilson on Thursday 20th June, 2013 at 3:53pm

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Just under 200 teachers, therapists, lecturers and others with an interest in the use of ICT to support learners with additional support needs attended this year's ICT and Inclusion days in Edinburgh and Glasgow. The days were organised by CALL Scotland in partnership with The BRITE Initiative and showcased the latest software and assistive technology from many of the UK's leading suppliers.

Practical Approaches

Local teachers and specialists gave presentations on practical approaches to the use of technology in the classroom, demonstrating apps for iPad and Android devices, as well as more traditional technology.

Here are just a few of the many positive comments we have received about the days:

"Valuable day. Lots of learning opportunities and considerations to take forward."

"The presentations have been informative and inspiring. Practical issues for schools have also been acknowledged. A very useful day. Thank you!"

"Would definitely recommend CALL / BRITE info day like this to colleagues - congrats to hard working, enthusiastic team who put the day (and all the hard work behind this) together."

"Excellent day. Exhibitors great. All presenters had something to say."

"An extremely informative series of presentations. The focus on iPads and iPad apps I found very relevant as an increasing number of staff / pupils are using iPads in school."

"Overall it was a very informative and enjoyable day with great opportunities to network and to get up to date information / ideas / products. Thank you!"

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the day. It was very interesting - we are focusing on ICT development next session as part of our school improvement plan. This will help me give some direction to staff."

"Excellent and always thought provoking. Make it a two day event!!"

"A great day. Informative and inspirational. Looking forward to next year to discover how technology has moved even further for education in ASN."



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ICT and Inclusion - What's Happening in Glasgow?

By Allan Wilson on Thursday 13th June, 2013 at 12:29pm

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In addition to our ICT and Inclusion Day in Edinburgh on Tuesday, we're also very much looking forward to the ICT and Inclusion Day at the Thistle Hotel in Glasgow on Wednesday 19th June, run in partnership with our friends from the BRITE Initiative.

School Presentations to the Fore!

The ASL Technology Service in Glasgow have put together a short programme of presentations from schools in Glasgow, which looks really exciting!

Emma Cackette from Milton School will be describing how the use of the Wii and iPads has enhanced learning experiences for pupils, while William Brown from Hollybrook Academy will be looking at affordable innovative ICT tools. The bank of 2 to 3 minute micro video lessons he has been creating sound great!

The ASL Technology Service will be telling people about the work they do in a typical day (if such a thing exists) to show how ICT takes the T out of CAN'T! Mairi Adkins will be talking about the Ashcraig School iBand - this could definitely be a fun session!

We are very grateful for the time and effort that Deirdre Arnott and her colleagues in the ASL Technology Service have put into creating a fantastic programme of school presentations.

Excited about iPads and Tablets?

There's a definite iPad theme to this year's ICT and Inclusion, showing the level of excitement created by these devices. In addition to the sessions from Milton and Ashcraig mentioned above, Paul Nisbet and Craig Mill from CALL will be giving a presentation on using iPads to support learners with reading and writing difficulties. In another session, Craig will be talking about the use of iBook Author to create engaging interactive books. Niall Hardy from BRITE will talk about effective iPad use for students, not just in terms of individual apps, but also in the development of study skills and strategies.

Several exhibitors will be demonstrating apps in their presentations. Inclusive Technology have new apps to show, while Crick Software will be demonstrating their new Clicker apps, designed to complement Clicker 6. Therapy Box and Ability World will be demonstrating apps to support communication. Fiona Wilson, a teacher based in Ireland, will be demonstrating her image2talk app for individuals with communication difficulties arising from autism.

We're not ignoring the other tablets, of course. Fil McIntyre from BRITE will be comparing iPads, Android and Windows tablets, particularly with regard to accessibility, while Iansyst will be demonstrating their CapturaTalk reading and writing support app for Android devices.

Its Not Just About Tablets!

There's a lot more to see and hear about than just iPads and other tablets at ICT and Inclusion. Optelec and Dolphin will be demonstrating some of the latest equipment to support learners with a visual impairment, while iHear will be talking about equipment to support learners with hearing impairments and attention disorders. Fil McIntyre will be showing how to add captions to video material for the same group. TextHelp, Concept Northern, Claro Software and Iansyst will be focusing on the use of technology to support learners with dyslexia. A new version of TextHelp's Read and Write Gold has just been released and is definitely worth a look. Paul Nisbet will be presenting on how to make inclusive digital learning resources in PDF format - also very relevant for people with reading and writing difficulties.

Communication is also an important theme for this year's ICT and Inclusion. Sally Millar from CALL will be demonstrating resources designed to promote support for people who use augmentative and alternative communication. In addition to the app providers mentioned above, Smartbox AT, Logan Technologies and Mayer Johnson will all have resources and equipment to support learners with communication difficulties.

Make sure you also visit the Sherston stand to find out about their latest software to support a broad range of learners. Sometimes the 'smaller' stands can be among the most interesting ones at ICT and Inclusion. Don't miss Doorway Online to find out about the latest resources available on this fabulous web site, while Claire Murray will be demonstrating some great resources on her Emotion Works stand.

Prize Draw

Don't miss the Prize Draw at the end of the day, providing a chance to win lots of prizes provided by the exhibitors. You'll have to stay to the end of the day to take part.

It's Not too Late to Register!

Register Now!



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