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iVona MiniReader and MS Word - keyboard shortcuts

By Stuart Aitken on Wednesday 10th December, 2014 at 4:48pm

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Many pupils are now using iVona MiniReader as their main text-to-speech tool in Scottish schools. One question has come up a couple of times and it came up again in today's SQA ICT & Literacy Seminar (URL).

iVona MiniReader with Play button

Today's question was how to use iVona to read out a National Literacy 3 or 4 exemplar paper using only the keyboard. The N3 and N4 papers are available in MS Word. So we are considering iVona working with MS Word keyboard shortcuts. (PDF has different keyboard shortcuts not covered in this blog.)

Pressing Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar isn't a problem for pupils who can find the word, phrase, sentence to speak! 

But what if the pupil has dyspraxia, or a physical disability or, say, a visual impairment  that makes it difficult to i) locate the chunk of text to be spoken, and ii) to then navigate to that Play button in order to press it? 

Become a Power user!

Often referred to as Power users, keyboard users also have a trick available. It uses Extend mode, F8 (Function key 8).​


We'll cover three scenarios.

  1. Pupils who can independently find the first word to be spoken.
  2.     Pupils who need to use the keyboard to find the first word or phrase to be spoken.
  3.     Pupils who can only press one key at a time.

1. Pupils who can independently find the first word to be spoken

  1. Open the Word document, launch iVona MiniReader.
  2. Position cursor (blinking) somewhere in the first word to be spoken.
  3. Press F8 once to turn it on. Press again to select the whole word.
  4. (Optional) To select the whole sentence to be read, press F8 a second time.
  5. (Optional) To select the whole paragraph to be read, press F8 a third time.
  6. Press Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar to speak the word, sentence or paragraph.
  7. To deselect the word, sentence or paragraph, press Esc, followed by an arrow key.

2. Pupils who need to use the keyboard to find the first word or phrase to be spoken

  1. Open your Word document and launch iVona MiniReader
  2. Press Ctrl+F to find the first word or phrase to be spoken - this opens the Find pane. Type in the word or phrase to be found.
  3. Press Enter.
  4. Use the arrow key to highlight the box containing the word or phrase.
  5. (Optional) To select the whole sentence to be read, press F8 a second time - may need three presses.
  6. (Optional) To select the whole paragraph to be read, press F8 a third time - may need four presses.
  7. Press Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar to speak the word or phrase found (iVona actually speaks it from the Word document itself rather than from the pane - clever!).
  8. To deselect the word, sentence or paragraph, press Esc, followed by an arrow key.

To close the Find pane - some pupils may find it distracting or it may take up too much space on the screen

  1. With the cursor (blinking) in the Find pane somewhere.

  2. Press Ctrl+Spacebar then W.

3. ​For pupils who can only press one key at a time

Use Sticky Keys

  1. To activate Sticky Keys press Windows key +U > Make the keyboard easier to use > Turn on Sticky keys.
  2. It is now possible to press keyboard combinations by pressing one key, then the next etc. Each key will 'stick' e.g. Ctrl then Shift then Spacebar has the same effect as pressing Ctrl+Shift+Spacebar together.

The document Extend Selection Shortcuts Word is a slightly edited version of those listed under Microsoft Word 2010 Help - which of course can be accessed by pressing the F1 key. 


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Free symbol goodies

By Sally Millar on Monday 1st December, 2014 at 9:31am

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If you're looking for quick-to-make Winter / Christmas activities, check out the free downloadable symbol supported worksheets, from Widgit .



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New in iOS 8

By Craig Mill on Thursday 27th November, 2014 at 2:05pm

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The latest iOS, (iOS 8) for iPhones and iPads, features new Accessibility options as well as a few enhancements to existing tools.  

These include:


QuickType is a new context-based word prediction feature for the iPad’s built-in on-screen keyboard. To set up QuickType go to Settings, General, Keyboard and switch on Predictive.  When you start typing in Notes or Pages QuickType will recommend your next word based on your writing style and past messages, which appear at the top of the keyboard. QuickType can also be used in combination with Switch Control.

QuickType with word prediction

Third-party keyboards

As well as the iPad’s default on-screen keyboard you can now use additional 3rd party keyboard apps, such as Keedogo Plus, Swype, Flesky, Ginger Keyboard + Page and SuperKeys – see Allan’s blog post on SuperKeys Assistive Keyboard App. These keyboards can be used in Pages, Keynote, Notes and other text-based apps that make use of the iOS keyboard.  A benefit of using integrated keyboards is that pupils do not need to ‘Send to’ or ‘Copy’ text between different apps, thereby making the workflow process much simpler.  

Keedogo plus


As well as the existing tools in Vision i.e. Full Screen Zoom (Double-tap three fingers to zoom etc.) a new feature, Window Zoom, allows users to magnify parts of the screen by moving the magnification window with a small handle situated at the bottom of the Zoom Window. Positioning can also be controlled with a new feature ‘Show Controller’ allowing you to control or specify which part of the screen is magnified and to adjust the level of the zoom. The Zoom Window can also be resized to suit different needs.  

Zoom Window

Follow Focus and Zoom Keyboard

Another addition to iOS 8 and Vision is Follow Focus and Zoom Keyboard. Follow Focus tracks the text wherever the cursor is placed when typing which is particularly useful if a document is magnified at high zoom. With Zoom Keyboard you can set the on-screen keyboard to the default size underneath a magnified window (and/or Double-tap three fingers to magnify the keyboard)  thereby making it easy to both type and see what you’re typing without having to continuously zoom in and out of different sections of the screen.

Speak Screen

By far my most favourite new addition is Speak Screen which can be found in Accessibility, Speech and Speak Screen. Once Speak Screen is turned on a simple ‘swipe down with two fingers from the top of the screen’ will activate the Speak Screen bar, similar to the illustration below:

Speak Screen in iOS 8

Speak Screen will read anything where there is content on the screen such as text in Safari, Pages, Kindle Books and queries asked of Siri.

Guided Access

Guided Access is designed to keep pupils on task by ‘locking’ them into a specified app. A new feature in Guided Access is setting time limits so teachers and parents can stipulate the length of time Guided Access is to be used. This could be useful for setting timed reading/writing activities with a ‘you can play a game now ’reward (which could also be timed) after the time limit has expired.  

Enhanced Braille Keyboard

iOS 8 adds support for 6-dot and 8 dot Braille input system-wide in combination with VoiceOver. This feature involves a dedicated Braille keyboard that will translate 6-dot and 8 dot chords into text and can be used for searching apps via Spotlight Search or in Pages, Notes etc. A useful video tutorial can be found on the Luis Perez YouTube Channel.

To find out more on iOS 8 watch the CALL Live webinar on ‘What’s new in iOS 8’ which explains how to add and select 3rd party keyboards and make the most of the new tools and features.  


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CALL Archived Webinars

By Craig Mill on Thursday 20th November, 2014 at 3:19pm

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There are now almost 30 recorded webinars available to view on the CALL Scotland webinar archive. So if you’re looking for some additional Professional Learning to update your skills and knowledge or would simply like to find out about technology to support pupils with additional needs, the CALL Webinar Archive is a great place to find out more.

Webinars include finding out how to download and use books from the Books for All database on computers and iPads, making the most of communication apps, National Literacy Assessments, Digital Exams and much more!

Example of a CALL Scotland webinar

Snapshot of a CALL webinar focusing on Books for All
















You can watch a preview of a recent webinar. Webinars tend to last for about 20 - 30 minutes and can be viewed on a computer via an internet connection.

To find out more and browse through the list of archived webinars visit the CALL Webinar Archive.  

Alternatively, if you would like to join a ‘live’ webinar visit the Professional Learning section of the CALL web site to see the list of forthcoming webinars. 


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Supporting Writing Difficulties a practical guide from CALL Scotland

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

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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.


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Meeting CfE outcomes using AAC

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

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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!



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Free Sensory Light Box activities!

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

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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




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App for AAC assessment?

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

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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?


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aacorn AAC offer - one week only

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

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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.).


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New look Predictable with Scottish Voice too!

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

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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!




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

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

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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.


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Bobath Scotland Survey

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

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[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 –


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PowerPoint Books for Young Readers

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

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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!




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Free SymbolStix Anti-bullying materials!

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

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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!


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Superkeys Assistive Keyboard app

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

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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'.


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