Some of Our other websites:

Communication and Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities

You are here


RSS Feed


Tags (Top 20)


Supporting Writing Difficulties a practical guide from CALL Scotland

By Craig Mill on Tuesday 18th November, 2014 at 3:50pm

3 Comments Post a comment Permalink

I have a child with writing difficulties. What could help?

CALL Scotland is pleased to announce the release of a new resource; 'Supporting Writing Difficulties, A Practical Guide’. This is a step-by-step guide in the form of a question and answer ‘checklist’ helping  you to  identify problems and suggesting a range of practical technology focused solutions to support pupils with writing difficulties.  The guide is presented as an ‘infograph’ that can be displayed on the wall as a prompt for staff, as well as filed as part of an individual pupil’s Action Plan.

Supporting Writing Difficulties Infograph

The guide is primarily aimed at Teachers, Support for Learning Teachers and ICT Coordinators but should ideally be implemented as part of a whole school / local authority approach, and incorporating liaison with other appropriate support agencies and specialists.

Based on eight circular ‘headings’, the guide methodically guides the teacher through an initial process of identification, i.e. ‘the pupil appears reluctant to write’ to a series of ‘have you tried?’ suggestions about possible approaches and technologies to improve opportunities for children who are struggling with handwriting.

This problem-solving guide explores the following areas/issues:

  • Identifying the problems, gathering information, team approach
  • Identifying problems with physical handwriting using a pencil/pen
  • Have you tried? (examples of low tech/practical solutions)
  • Have you tried a computer, tablet or keyboard adaptation?
  • Have you tried customising the screen and computer settings?
  • Have you tried supportive software?
  • Have you tried different access methods?
  • Working in partnership with parents and professionals

A range of comprehensive hints, tips and lists of possible solutions are provided through each stage including freely available and/or built-in options such as changing font styles, background colours to more high tech solutions such as word prediction software and digital scanning pens, and alternative access methods.

CALL Scotland’s Supporting Writing Difficulties guide is available as a free download in two formats, a digital version which has clickable links to online resources, and a printable version.

Download the digital (with links) infograph guide

Download the printable infograph guide

Although this is a ‘generic’ guide, the content and format of the infograph can (at CALL's discretion), be modified and adapted to reflect the processes and procedures of particular local authorities. Please contact CALL if you would like to explore that idea on behalf of a local authority in Scotland.


Share or like this post:

Meeting CfE outcomes using AAC

By Joanna Courtney on Wednesday 5th November, 2014 at 4:11pm

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

Do these sound familiar?

In everyday activity and play, I explore and make choices to develop my learning and interests. I am encouraged to use and share my experiences. HWB 0-19a

I value the opportunities I am given to make friends and be part of a group in a range of situations. HWB 0-14a

​Yes, that's right, they're Early Level Curricular Health and wellbeing outcomes from Curriculum for Excellence.

Now, how do we try to meet these particular outcomes for those pupils using AAC?

Well, you could try using some of the activities from CALL's Keep Talking Book, in particular the 'Communication Friends Groups' activities like

Show and Tell Photos

In this game the pupils show a special photo to a group of friends and answer questions about it using their Talker. They can then find out more about their friends’ photos by asking them some questions too.

Have fun and Keep Talking!



Share or like this post:

Free Sensory Light Box activities!

By Joanna Courtney on Wednesday 5th November, 2014 at 11:16am

1 Comment Post a comment Permalink

There is a great 'cause and effect level' iPad app called 'Cause and Effect Sensory Light Box,' which costs £1.99 from the App Store. It's a lovely early level app for those who are beginning to interact with a touch screen.

It would also be very nice projected from the iPad onto a whiteboard or similar to help create a variety of sensory environments.

However, it just got even better...

You can now download a PC or Mac version for your computer FREE from SEN Teacher!

Download here 

So you can now use the activities on your Touch screen computer or with your Eye Gaze systems, free of charge!

This will make a welcome addition to your suite of Eye Gaze resources and sit nicely at the 'Sensory' level of the Eye Gaze Learning Curve.

So go on, download it and try it out with your eye gaze users and check out the app for your iPads too!

N.B. When using on the computer, always remember to try out the activities with a mouse yourself first, so that you know what the correct mouse emulation setting is for eye gaze e.g. mouse over, left click or click and drag




Share or like this post:

App for AAC assessment?

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 4th November, 2014 at 11:14am

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

Sandra at Logan Technologies (who sell a range of iPad accessories including customised keyguards) challenged me this week by asking if there was an App for AAC assessment. Here is the information that I passed on to her - but if anyone out there knows more about possible AAC assessment tools on iPad, then let's hear it, please?

We need to be clear  - apps are no substitute for a full assessment by a speech and language therapist  / AAC specialist! - they are only potentially useful additional tools.

The app AAC Evaluation Genie  (£8.99) is a helpful tool to evaluate certain aspects of function, relevant to AAC: visual perception & discrimination (broad brush only); accuracy of targeting of different numbers and sizes of targets on screen; and some early vocabulary, basic concepts, and categorisation skills. It is also designed to be switch accessible and to allow evaluation of three common scan patterns, and a range of scan timings, from within the app.

           Later sections of the app focus specifically on Pixon symbols and the Unity vocabulary, so may not be relevant for all, although these could be used to explore the general ability to learn to 'decode' more abstract representations. The final sections look at putting together symbol choices from a grid, to describe a picture, and word recognition / picture matching (to determine whether text/word prediction could be considered as an AAC medium), so the app covers a huge range of skill levels.

The AAC Evaluation Genie is a far cry from being a full AAC assessment. It certainly is not 'diagnostic' nor does it aim to 'prescribe' which AAC system or device is most appropriate, but just informally supports AAC specialists in evaluating a number of relevant skill areas.

The app is easy to use and the 'Settings' allow you to select which skill areas you want to turn off, or on, for testing. The user interface is very clear and uncluttered, and the picture quality is good (and by and large suitable for both child and adult users) - though American. Correct responses get a mini tinkle of fairy bells, while incorrect responses just move on silently.

The app also collects full data of the users responses and can be printed out (or saved as a screen shot)

There is a little video that illustrates it well. Reviews are available.


There is a 'bundle' of apps called Speech Therapy Assessment (£84.99) - each app can also be bought separately - we have not tried this.

More affordably, the Receptive Language Assessment with Splingo (£17.49)  seems useful  (but it's for language, not AAC as such). The fun Splingo language apps in general (cheaper!) can reveal useful information about the ability to listen, follow verbal instructions, and about language level (child oriented). Try Splingo's Language Universe (£1.99) and Pronouns with Splingo (£1.99). You can also construct your own highly customised assessment suite using the wonderfully versatile Bitsboard app (free) - I find the 'Photo Touch',  'Odd One Out' and 'Sort it' games most useful for this function, out of the 14 available game formats.

In fact, just using ordinary Apps and carefully observing the user, with a clear idea of the skills you are looking for, is often just as useful, as an informal form of assessment, as a 'test' would be. The iPad is a powerful 'viewing window' into a user's functioning. I often recommend the AAC app Sounding Board  (free) as an evaluation tool (to get info about user's ability to cope with different numbers of locations on screen, recognition of photos, pictures etc., ability to navigate links, and ability to learn functional use for requesting, responding to questions etc. etc. 


And finally - there is also an App called ATEval2Go (£27.99) which looks very interesting, and here at CALL we plan to explore this further as soon as we can. It is not a one-off therapist / teacher - patient/child interaction like the AAC Genie, it is a full scale productivity system for structuring assessment, record-keeping, reporting, photo and video storage, and documentation based on the excellent Joy Zabala's SETT framework, and on other recognised assistive technology assessment processes. 'Banks' of commonly used goals, strategies, tools and recommendations are available (and these are editable so you can add your own) - time would be needed to evaluate the banks to see if they might match the needs of your particular organisation.  ATEval2Go produces a cumulative editable report which can be exported, e-mailed or printed. Adoption of this tool could revolutionize an organisation's whole assessment process - this would need to be an agreed 'whole team' approach.


Look forward to hearing if anyone else has found any useful AAC assessment apps?


Share or like this post:

aacorn AAC offer - one week only

By Sally Millar on Monday 3rd November, 2014 at 12:48pm

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

A quick 'heads-up'... the AAC app 'aacorn AAC ' is offering a 20% off deal this week only

(the app's first birthday)

As - like other fully featured AAC systems -  this is an expensive app (usually £129.99),  it may be worth your while to take advantage of this £99.99 offer while you can. 

aacorn AAC is innovative and unique amongst AAC apps, displaying a dynamic 'word tree' that provides step by step support for simple sentence building. Each screen / step offers only a very few word choices at a  time, and it learns familiar messages and offers a prediction based on previous choices/ use. The vocabulary available can be highly personalised with the user's own images. The overall design is child-friendly. ​You can view a wee video that illustrates the idea better than I can describe it!






aacorn AAC is very different to conventional 'grid-based' apps that display a (sometimes very large) array of symbols per screen, that may be found overwhelming by users, and with which it can be overly-demanding to expect some users to be able to build a sentence word by word, by navigating through several different 'category folders' (little words, people, adjectives, colours, clothes, actions  etc.).


Share or like this post:

New look Predictable with Scottish Voice too!

By Gillian McNeill on Thursday 30th October, 2014 at 5:03pm

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

First it was Rhona in Proloquo2Go and now we have Fiona in Predictable!

Another Scottish voice has arrived this week for female AAC users using Predictable text-to-speech app on the iPad. The voice, called Fiona from the company Nuance, comes with a number of other voices to choose from including an Irish voice – Moira and additional British English voices.

In addition to the new voices, a new speech output option has been added, allowing use of your own unique text-to-speech voice. This voice is first created via the ModelTalker project (an online service), which requires you to upload recordings of your own or a friend’s/family member’s voice, which ModelTalker then creates into a personalised text-to-speech version. Once built, your new voice is then available to import into Predictable. (We haven’t checked this feature out yet, but are eager to know how well it actually works!)

Predictable is a text based communication app with word prediction and some symbol support for stored phrases, which are organised into categories. As well as direct touch control, it has an in-built switch scanning option for those requiring alternative switch access.

Other changes in version 4 include a significant overhaul to the appearance and set up of the user interface, as well as Skype integration, changes to  phrase storage set up and a news feed.

Update from the app store and go to therapybox for further details including videos and a downloadable user guide from.

The new voice is a welcome addition for us lassies north of the border, but the laddies will have to wait a bit longer before they too can speak out with a Scottish accent!




Share or like this post:

Scottish female voice for Proloquo2Go iPad app users och aye!!

By Gillian McNeill on Tuesday 28th October, 2014 at 2:10pm

1 Comment Post a comment Permalink

Having asked for Scottish voices from the AAC app developers some time ago, we are delighted to learn that a female voice has finally become available in Proloquo2Go (P2G). It’s called Rhona and is an adult female voice from the text-to-speech company Acapela. 

My immediate reaction to the news, was to dash to my iPad to update to P2G 3.0.5 so I could listen to her accent (the voice is included in the new update, with no additional cost) and I was not disappointed!

The voice has a clear quality with natural sounding intonation and having tested it with an initial selection of Scottish words, we are pleased to see that it has an accurate pronunciation of “ch” (the throaty unvoiced sound at the end of “loch”). Other comments from a quick survey from 8 of my CALL colleagues include:

“flowing intonation – no pauses with intonation changes”

“recognisably Scottish, but with a soft sounding quality, rather than strongly Scottish”

“copes well with even the trickier of pronunciations”

We rated the voice as 8.5 out of 10 for overall impression, which is a high score from us given our tendency to take great care in our assessing and appraising, and we expect that half of the Scottish adult population of P2G users will be happy too! Here’s hoping a male version will not be too far away!

Another comment from the team was that although it may be suitable for some secondary school-aged girls, younger girls (nursery/primary school?)  would prefer to have a child version. (So female and male Scottish child voices are on our wish list too!)

P2G is a symbol-based communication app from AssistiveWare, with a grid-based format which can be used by a range of AAC users from basic communication to a full communication system. The new voice is easy to download, first update to P2G 3.0.5 from the app store, then within the app go to options – speech – voice, select Rhona from the list of downloadable voices.


Share or like this post:

Bobath Scotland Survey

By Allan Wilson on Thursday 23rd October, 2014 at 10:15am

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

[We have been asked to circulate information on a couple of surveys that Bobath Scotland are carrying out among parents of children with cerebral palsy in Scotland and the practitioners working with them.]

Bobath Scotland Cerebral Palsy Therapy Centre are currently progressing a bid to the Big Lottery Fund for a grant to deliver support to families and children with cerebral palsy in Scotland between the ages of 2-6.

The aim of the project is to help children living with cerebral palsy to reach their full potential. Support will also be provided to the parents/carers and wider family by teaching them therapy techniques that they can easily build into their everyday routine and by giving them the knowledge and support they need to give their child the very best start in life.

To help scope the project, we are undertaking a consultation exercise to provide evidence of the need for such a project and determine where the families who will be supported are located, so we can take account of this in the design of the services offered.

We are looking to consult, Scotland wide, with families of children with cerebral palsy and also professionals who support families and children with cerebral palsy. We’d appreciate if you could spend five minutes completing the short survey that is relevant to you.

Parents/Carers of Children with Cerebral Palsy –

Practitioners for Children with Cerebral Palsy –


Share or like this post:

PowerPoint Books for Young Readers

By Joanna Courtney on Wednesday 22nd October, 2014 at 11:05am

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

Do you work with children with a print disability, who need access to switch accessible early level Picture Books?

Do you find it hard to find time to create new story resources using PowerPoint?

Well, here's some good news....we've done it for you!

For the past 6 years CALL Scotland have been working with the Scottish Book Trust to create accessible versions of the short-listed books for the Scottish Children's Book Awards.

The Bookbug category of books are simple Picture Books which are ideal reading material for those whose literacy skills are at an early level. For information on this year's Book Awards and how to get copies of the books and additional symbolised resources click here

We are pleased to announce that the previous years' short-listed books, 2009-2013, (15 books in total) are now available to download from the Books for All database 

To make this extra easy for you all, we've created a downloadable PowerPoint Digital Library PDF, which has clickable links taking you directly to the PowerPoint files in the database! You then just need to log in, using your Glow or Scran username and password, to download the books straight to your computer.

Alternatively, you can go to the PowerPoint Books page on the Books For All website, where you'll find the PDF as well as a list of all the available books, also with links to the PowerPoint files.

So there you have it, a library of PowerPoint books ready for you to enjoy with your pupils.

With Halloween coming up, why not start with Dear Vampa, a story about a family of vampires with strange new neighbours...... or Jumblebum, about a monster who loves mess!




Share or like this post:

Free SymbolStix Anti-bullying materials!

By Joanna Courtney on Tuesday 21st October, 2014 at 12:37pm

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

We're pleased to let you know about some BRAND NEW materials that SymbolStix have created to support teachers and parents as they deal with bullying awareness, prevention and intervention.

All of the materials are FREE for posting, distributing, sharing, copying and printing!

It is hoped these free materials will add to meaningful discussion about bullying and people with disabilities.

The SymbolStix used in the materials are all searchable at SymbolStix Online

Here are the PDF materials for download:  Positive Bingo   and  Categories Game  

Hope you find them useful!


Share or like this post:

Superkeys Assistive Keyboard app

By Allan Wilson on Thursday 16th October, 2014 at 5:44pm

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

Crick Software have just released an interesting new keyboard app for the iPad, taking advantage of the new iOS 8 feature that allows different keyboards to be used across a range of different apps. Superkeys Assistive Keyboard divides the keyboard up into a series of 'chunks' of keys.

The Superkeys Keyboard










The first time you tap on one of these 'chunks' it is enlarged, making it easier to select the key you want with a second tap. Obviously, having to tap twice to select a letter will slow you down, but this could be a very useful tool for a person with poor motor control, or low vision, who finds it hard to reliably tap on the key they want. It could be very useful for an iPhone!

'Chunk of keyboard' enlarged by Superkeys.










The keyboard also has a Shortcuts key, allowing access to a few commonly used phrases, which can be edited and added to.










Unfortunately, it is not currently set up or switch users. Someone scanning with the keyboard will still be offered 'Q to Y' as their first option, rather than the letters in the first 'chunk', i.e. 'Q to E' and A to D'.


Share or like this post:

TeeJay CfE Books 1a and 1b now available with answer boxes

By Paul Nisbet on Friday 10th October, 2014 at 1:14pm

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

Tom Strang at TeeJay Publishers has kindly provided digital versions of the new Curriculum for Excellence books for the Books for All Database, so that learners with print disabilities can read and access them. 

Sarah and Rebecca here in CALL have been working hard to insert answer boxes and adapt the books so that learners can tackle the exercises on screen, and we've just uploaded new versions of Books 1a and 1b to the Books for All Database.

The books are 'PDF Portfolios' so when you open a book with Adobe Reader on your computer you will see thumbnails of each chapter: double-click on a chapter to view the preview and then double click again to open it.

(You'll need Adobe Flash installed to view the Portfolio properly, and from our trials it seems that most school computers do have this.)



Or, you can extract the chapter as a separate file and save it on your computer. We recommend extracting the chapters and accessing them separately because the PDF Portfolio can take a while to open and the extracted individual files seem to open much faster. 


Most of the pages have answer boxes inserted so that you can type your answers on-screen.

To jump to the next answer box press the Tab key on the keyboard: to go back to the previous box, press Shift-Tab.










Some of the pages did not have enough room to insert the answers boxes, and so Sarah and Rebecca added extra pages to give more space to lay out the answer boxes. You'll find that many of the exercises with arithmetic working take this form.







Exercises that involve drawing can be done on the computer using the Adobe Reader Drawing Markups. (Click Comment at the right hand side of the toolbar to see the Annotations and Drawing Markup tools).

This tiling exercise has been done using the Polygon tool. I set the colours of the polygon by right-clicking on the Polygon tool in the Drawing Markups and setting the Tool Default Properties. In this exercise, I drew the tiles in different orientations then used CTRL-C and CTRL-V to copy and paste multiple tiles. 

You can download a quick guide on using the various Adobe Reader XI drawing and commenting tools


On an iPad, tap to download the book and then Open it in the free Adobe Reader app





You'll then see each chapter listed: tap to open the chapter in Adobe Reader.





However, you can't type in answers and so we recommend tapping again and opening the chapter in an app that allows you to type in answers to form fields such as PDF Expert.





PDF Expert lets you type in answers, draw shapes and annotate the text, and it also has text to speech so you can read the questions.

(We used to suggest ClaroPDF for accessing PDFs with answer boxes/form fields but at time of writing it has a bug which means that when you type an answer into a box, your answer often gets copied to other answer boxes on the same page! Claro are working on a fix for this, but it's not there yet.)


Share or like this post:

Symbols and Reading

By Sally Millar on Friday 10th October, 2014 at 11:07am

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

Great -  a clear statement and short / simple explanation from AAC guru Carol Zangari about when to use and when not to use symbols in literacy tasks. To support comprehension and communication around the meaning of a text - use 'em to the full, they will help the learner to engage, participate and become confident.  But to support teaching and learning of actual reading - don't confuse / dilute the learner's relationship with the text itself - don't add symbols.



Share or like this post:

myGaze-new affordable eye tracker!

By Joanna Courtney on Thursday 9th October, 2014 at 10:31am

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

I've been trying out the new MyGaze eye tracker from Inclusive Technology.

Looks like it's going to be a very useful and affordable tool for therapy departments, schools and individual pupils, with the basic package of the eye tracker and EyeMouse Play software coming in at £875.

Of course, you then need to decide which software to purchase, depending on your client(s) and buy additional equipment to use it on e.g. monitor (attached to your laptop), mounting plate, table/floor stand. But you're still looking at under £2000.


Trying it for the first time, I really like the easy calibration and setup and the 'goggles' and visual prompt of red, amber, green within the positioning guide, so you know easily how to improve positioning.

I've found that even a 1 point calibration enables me to access single left click 'Switch IT' type activities, Target and Touch, Choose IT Maker activities through to grid-based communication software. This is done by mouse emulation only. I've also found that using my own 1 point calibration with a variety of software is more accurate than using someone else's 9 point calibration.

I also like how you can set up keyboard shortcuts to features such as increase/decrease dwell time, pause eye gaze, and positioning guide (track status) so that these can be adjusted and fine-tuned without going in and out of the software you're using!

On first impressions, very user friendly and accurate. Looking forward to trying it out with some clients now-watch this space! 


Share or like this post:

Now Hear Me campaign

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 7th October, 2014 at 7:02pm

0 Comments Post a comment Permalink

NHS Education for Scotland's Now Hear Me campaign goes public, with an article about AAC in the Herald Scotland today.  

Giving a voice to those who are unable to speak​: People who use equipment to help them speak are backing a push for greater acceptance of the way they communicate.


Share or like this post: