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New TeeJay and Nelson Thornes Digital Maths books on the Books for All Database

By Paul Nisbet on Friday 17th May, 2013 at 5:20pm

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We have some more new maths textbooks on the Books for All Database.

TeeJay Maths Curriculum for Excellence titles

We are very grateful to TeeJay Publishers who have kindly provided PDFs of their six new Curriculum for Excellence textbooks: Books 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a and 3b. These cover Curriculum for Excellence First, Second and Third levels. We have added bookmarks to aid navigation, matched the page numbers to the paper books, and 'reader-enabled' the files so that learners can use the drawing, audio recording and highlighting tools in Adobe Reader to access the books. We have not yet added answer boxes, but learners can type answers in using the Adobe Reader 'Typewriter' tool. You can read and access the books on your iPad using the free Adobe Reader app, or preferably PDFaloud or iAnnotate. Click here to see these new books in the database.  

Thanks also to Caroline Jamieson in Moray for contributing a Large Print copy of the Curriculum for Excellence Book 1b. Caroline has created the first 10 chapters and is working on the rest. See it here

Nelson Thornes New Maths in Action

Marie Lawson in Shetland has uploaded an 18 point Large Print version of New Maths in Action S1/1, to add to the 24 point Large Print copy of the S1/2 book that's already there. 

We have also uploaded scanned PDF copies of New Maths in Action S1/3, S1/B and S2/3. These are really most suitable for learners with physical disabilities who need digital versions of books because they have difficulty handling the paper copies. The files are PDFs that have been created by scanning the paper copies, and while we have converted them to readable text, we don't have the resources to check every word and so there may be some text recognition errors. The books can be zoomed and magnified, and the text read out using text-to-speech, so they should be reasonably accessible to pupils with dyslexia or reading difficulties, or mild visual impairment. Again, the books are reader-enabled so that learners can type, draw, highlight and otherwise annotate the files.

Click here to see these new books.



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Read the same story again and again!

By Sally Millar on Wednesday 15th May, 2013 at 3:53pm

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Repeated exposure to the same story book is better for child language development than lots of different stories.

Interesting new research findings from the University of Sussex about how children learn and retain new words. I remember researching this and advocating repeated use of the same few stories back in 1994 - in the days of the CALL SAIL Kit (Special Access to Interactive Literacy) project. (Cheering to know that was good advice!) CALL still sells Story Packs - 3 book pack + CD of overlays in symbols

Also reminds me to commend to readers the excellent work of the North Carolina Center for Literacy and Disability Studies

And the great Tarheel Reader site, where you can get access to loads of free switch accessible books (mosty with simple one line per page text), with a speech output option (switch it on via the cogwheel 'Settings' icon)


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Proloquo2Go - if you want it, buy it NOW

By Sally Millar on Thursday 9th May, 2013 at 8:04pm

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Don't Wait - Buy it now!

If you haven't bought the Rolls-Royce AAC App Proloquo2Go (P2Go) yet, NOW is the time to buy it!


Because Version 3 has just come out  and it IS a major upgrade,  - switch access at last! DropBox! (and already, Version 2 was INFINITELY better than Version 1)

Because the price has stayed at 129.99 for the past four years or so, but the price is going to go up by c. 15% on 17th May (to something like 150 ? not sure exactly) Read why.

Yes, it's a lot dearer than most AAC apps. But it's good.


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Resources for People with Dyslexia

By Allan Wilson on Thursday 9th May, 2013 at 7:02pm

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It was great to see so many people at the Dyslexia Scotland South East Scotland meeting last night, where I was giving a talk on Low Cost Software and iPad Apps to support people with dyslexia. Unfortunately, I wasn't expecting quite so many people so I ran out of copies of the handout, listing the programs and apps I was (somewhat ambitiously!) trying to show during the evening. If you didn't manage to get a copy (or want another one), here it is.

I was asked about useful sources of information on developments in technology for learners with dyslexia and other support needs, particularly with regard to the iPad. These days, the internet is full of useful resources and it is easy to get bogged down with information, but there are some key resources:

  • The CALL Scotland Blog is a very good starting point, though we don't always have time to keep track of every interesting new development.
  • I did a handout listing iPad resources for a Parents' information Day back in November, and have been adding to it since. You can download it from here.
  • I'm a big fan of the Pinterest resource created by Lauren Enders

I'll try to add to this list next week.

I was also asked about dyslexia-related apps for Android devices. Paul Hamilton has an excellent blog where he talks about apps specifically for Android devices. His wider blog has information on other apps.


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ConnectABILITY - great resource!

By Sally Millar on Monday 6th May, 2013 at 11:51am

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Have you seen this terrific resource? (I can't believe I didn't know about it before - many thanks to Ian Bean - whose website is ALSO a great resource - for drawing attention to it.)

ConnectABILITY is a virtual community focused on lifelong learning and support for children, youth, adults and seniors with an intellectual disability, their families, caregivers and support networks. Users are able to connect, support each other, share, research and advocate via easy-to-use web tools.

A star attraction of the website - maybe for parents, especially - is the free Visuals Engine software, which provides basic templates for making visual support materials easily (1, 2, 4, 6, 12, or 16 to a page). You can use the photos provided, or upload your own photos and pictures. Or - and here's the thing - you can use the picture bank provided, which contains MJ PCS (Boardmaker) symbols  (not ALL of them, a subset of 400 odd). Having made your page, you can save it as a .pdf and print it, then cut up and use the pictures.

The extensive ConnectABILITY website also provides:

  • Pages  A custom group of content all based on a subject (Safety)
  • Articles  Stories, tip sheets, fact sheets on a specific subject
  • Workshops  Audio/visual presentation on a subject, between 10 and 15 minutes in length
  • Interactive  Games and activities to play on the computer 
  • Podcasts  Audio recordings of presentations
  • Links  Links to other useful resources on the internet

All the written materials and Workshops are highly readable and well illustrated. For example, you could download and read the excellent Tip Sheet Using Visuals and then be offered suggestions of other related Tip Sheets, and guided to a short online Workshop  with key information and further links.


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By Sally Millar on Thursday 2nd May, 2013 at 7:07pm

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I've worked in CALL for 30 years - yes,  I know, how scary is that! - and I have only once or twice ever before seen this super-rare sight- three CALL guys in a suit. (Well, in three different suits, to be precise....) - on their way to a posh party at Edinburgh Castle, with Dyslexia Scotland, and Alex Salmond.


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Kindle now has text-to-speech on iPad, iPod, iPhone

By Stuart Aitken on Thursday 2nd May, 2013 at 4:41pm

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May Day brought a nice surprise for Kindle readers who use the app on their iOS. Now Kindle books can be read using text-to-speech on an iPad, iPhone or iPod. Before this update it’s always been a bit frustrating for readers of Kindle books to find that there was no way to listen to their collection on an iPad. Blind and visually impaired people who already had purchased Kindle books found that if they downloaded their Kindle books to an iPad it wasn’t possible to use the built-in features offered by VoiceOver. It wasn’t even possible to use the Speak Selection feature to select a word or chunk of text to have it read out. Now it is possible to use VoiceOver (not Speak Selection though).

Kindle Reader uses VoiceOver so if you want to use Kindle’s text-to-speech functions VoiceOver needs to be installed and running. To do this go to:

 Settings > General > Accessibility > VoiceOver > On.

VoiceOver is designed to allow blind and visually impaired people to access iOS So when it is running you activate apps in a slightly different way than the standard iOS approach. Mostly this involves a double tap instead of single tap (which makes sense, after all a blind or visually impaired person will want to check the right app is selected (single tap), before activating that app (double tap). Thereafter, use of text-to-speech is pretty straightforward and quite powerful.

  • In Kindle Library with VoiceOver on, tap once on a book to have full spoken information about each title, author and whether the book is installed. Double tap to open the book and start reading from where you left off.
  • Use a two finger swipe down to start continuous reading from top of page.
  • Use a single two finger tap while reading to pause. Two finger tap once again to resume.
  • Single finger tap selects a line of text and reads under the finger. (Like Speak Selection only it gives context too.) Single finger tap anywhere to read that line. Two finger tap to return to library.
  • Suppose you are in single line reading at a time (e.g. for meaning), and you want to return to continuous reading. Simply do a two finger swipe down to resume continuous reading.
  • Three finger swipe right to left to move to next page, or left to right to go to previous page.

All of these options are clearly spoken out.

What does it allow you to read?

Kindle titles will work. However, Word documents, PDF documents will not offer text-to-speech (many other apps do offer this functionality).

The big advantage is in being able to read your Kindle formatted books using text-to-speech.

Can you use other voices?

While t is not at all obvious how to do it is still possible to change the voice used in text-to-speech with the Kindle. The secret is to think about how you would give access to this facility to a blind or visually impaired person. You would do it from within VoiceOver. Here’s how to do it using the Language Rotor.

Setup is atwo stage process. First, you set up the languages you want to make available from within VoiceOver. Second with Voiceover activated, select the languages from the rotor you previously set up.

Turn on voices to be selected from in Language Rotor. 

General > Settings > Accessibility > Language Rotor (below Rotor)

Tap to select each of the languages you want to use as options e.g. US English, British English, Irish English.

Tap VoiceOver (at top of screen) to come out of Language Rotor.

Now you will want to select the chosen language or dialect. You do this with VoiceOver On.

  • Turn on VoiceOver as before General > Settings > Accessibility > VoiceOver > On
  • Launch Kindle with VoiceOver On.
  • Tap and rotate two fingers on the screen clockwise to turn on Rotor and the command available is spoken. (e.g. Characters, Words, Line etc.)
  • Repeat the movement until it says Language you’re ready now.
  • Do a one finger slide down, it will speak out the first voice you selected as an option. Repeat the rotor action until you reach the dialect or voice that you want. That is now selected. 
Now a two-finger swipe down will speak out in your preferred voice.

Now Apple if we could only have the Scottish Voices available from within the Languages available not just in the apps but across the whole system. That would be great!


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By Sally Millar on Monday 29th April, 2013 at 1:05pm

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As the summer approaches at a startling speed   - well, time-wise, if not weather-wise- the issue of transition looms large for many pupils, schools and families. Hopefully, plans will have started well in advance.

Going Places: Transition Scheme Supporting Children with Additional Needs into Secondary School (book and CD) is a resource that comes highly recommended, which sets out how schools can plan and prepare for transition into mainstream Secondary, for children with ASN.

Going Places (36.99) is written by Carolyn Gelenter and Nadine Prescott, and is published by Speechmark. It is available from WH Smith (cheapest), Amazon and other bookshops.


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Apps for getting text from an image

By Allan Wilson on Friday 19th April, 2013 at 4:44pm

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Image of advertisement from Times Educational SupplementI was asked earlier this week for advice on an app that would allow somebody to take a photograph of some text with an iPad and then convert the image into editable text that could be read back. This is equivalent to scanning a paper document and processing the image with an optical character recognition (OCR) program to create a text file, which can then be read back using text-to-speech software on a computer.

Prizmo or TextGrabber + Translator?

Normally I recommend Prizmo (6.99) for a task like this as it generally produces pretty decent results, provided that the lighting is good and the iPad is kept steady, but I read a recommendation for TextGrabber + Translator (0.69) a couple of days ago so I decided to compare them.

They were both originally designed for the iPhone, but work perfectly well on the iPad 3. When you search for them in the App Store you have to look among the iPhone, rather than the iPad apps. When you first open either of them, they'll only occupy a small part of the screen (equivalent to an iPhone display), but you can enlarge this by tapping on a small circular button marked 2X at the bottom right of the display.

I used both apps to take a picture of a page featuring an advertisement from today's Times Educational Supplement Scotland. and then used the OCR software within each app to convert the text on the page into editable text on the iPad. Prizmo only attempted to convert the black text, rather than white text on a coloured background. There were a couple of mistakes in the main body of the text, but it did surprisingly well when it attempted the very small Terms and Conditions text at the bottom of the page - there were a few mistakes, but the text was recognisable, which I found astonishing given the size of the original text. TextGrabber managed to cope with white text on a coloured background and was perfect in the main body of the text, but the small Terms and Conditions text was unrecognisable.

Reading Text Out Loud

When it came to speaking the text out, Prizmo uses its own text-to-speech system, allowing the text to be read out by pretty decent voices (for which you have to pay separately, typically 1.99 per voice). TextGrabber uses the built-in Apple Speak Selection system so the voice options are a little more restricted. This has to be turned on in the Accessibility Settings - Tap on the Settings icon, select General and scroll down to Accessibility to make sure that Speak Selection is turned on. You should then be given an option to Speak any text you select.

Translating Text

Prizmo and ScreenGrabber + Translate can translate from English into a wide range of foreign languages, which can then be read back in the appropriate language if you have a  suitable voice installed. The translations are not perfect, but good enough to get an idea of what the text is about.

Text scanned and translated by TextGrabber + TranslaterI think I would now lean towards TextGrabber - it is cheaper, slightly less complicated, and the OCR (conversion from an image into text) seems to be slightly more accurate.

There are, of course, other apps that can be used to do this.


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Free exhibition: ICT and Inclusion 2013

By Robert Stewart on Tuesday 16th April, 2013 at 4:49pm

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CALL Scotland has been organising the FREE annual ICT and Inclusion road-show since 2001. It provides people with an opportunity to see and compare the latest software and technology to support students with additional support needs from most of the leading UK companies.

Location and dates for the exhibitions are:

  • CALL Scotland, Edinburgh - 18 June 2013
  • Thistle Hotel, Glasgow - 19 June 2013

Suppliers will describe their key products in timetabled sessions and there will also be short presentations by staff from CALL Scotland.

The exhibitions will be open from 9.00 am until 4.00 pm.

Free Lunch! A free buffet lunch is provided at each of the three venues. It is therefore important that people register for the exhibition in advance so we have an idea of numbers before the day. Please indicate when you book a place if you wish to stay for lunch.

To find out more and to book online, go to the ICT and Inclusion web page or telephone CALL Scotland on 0131 651 6235 to book a place.


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An Open Letter to the Parent of a Child with Speech Delays

By Sally Millar on Monday 8th April, 2013 at 3:54pm

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Once again, the piercingly true words of a parent - therapists and teachers take note!

Dana Nieder, parent of Maya, urging parents and professionals not to 'wait and see' but to plunge in, as soon as possible, to the world of full strength AAC .

There is no time to waste - and there is nowhere for professionals to hide, these days, when the internet can provide such vast resources of information.

It's great that a parent is writing this stuff, because maybe other parents  - and let's be honest, there are many who are frustratingly reluctant to consider any alternative to speech, and just don't 'get' the importance of developing underlying language, and interactive communication skills - will accept it better from another parent than from a professional.

We all want the best for the child, but communication and language are complex functions and skills and there is no quick and easy solution. Both parents and professionals are needed to put all this together. And it's not just about speech and language therapists, who may see the child for a few hours over several months, but for school staff who see him/her for several hours every weekday........


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Best Simple Music Player App

By Joanna Courtney on Thursday 4th April, 2013 at 4:16pm

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Does your child like music? Do they love wading through your iPad music library to find their favourite tunes, perhaps deleting your favourites on the way?!

Help is at hand, from a cool little app called Kidzik and it only costs 1.49!

The app allows you to create a bespoke music library for your child, by first making a 'Kidzik' playlist in the iTunes Music Player app on your device.

The Kidzik app then 'picks up' the playlist automatically and presents it as a choice of album cover artwork choices.

The user then touches the album to select the single song or songs from that album and that's it!

They can play or pause by touching the selected album in the 'apple.' They can also choose tracks by touching the different colours of the 'worm.' The same colour will always be linked to the same song, so that the user will know that the 'green' song is their favourite, for example.

Really nice simple interface and great how it uses the album artwork for the choices, rather than cartoons, numbers or random shapes like the other music player apps I've come across.

Would be even better if it was switch accessible.....


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Top Interactive Story App, and top book!

By Sally Millar on Monday 1st April, 2013 at 3:06pm

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Wow! just wanted to share info about the stunning interactive story App for iPad that I just stumbled across - The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.

To me, this is what an interactive story App should be like - all the best of both a short film and a story book , somehow brilliantly integrated.

You can just read and listen to the story - fabulous graphics, bit retro, plus music  - or each page has interactive features that you can explore  - when you do, they somehow make the page turn into an animated movie.

This multiple award-winning animation by William Joyce and filmmakers (some from Pixar  - who, let's face it -  know what they are doing!) - is a beautiful tale about the value of stories. It's not exactly a 'starter level' story, but it's very accessible and the interactivity enhances engagement.

It comes with 'extras' -  a short film and a 'Making of this App' and it somehow incorporates both the Wizard of Oz and hurricane Katrina & Sandy with resonances of Up! and other well-known tales and films.

You can change most of the settings re audio, text, music etc. but unfortunately there is no alternative to a 'swipe' for turning the page. 

Well worth 2.99 anyway. Take a peek! (Also available as a real book or for Kindle - dearer, of course)

AND......while we're at it - here is a must-buy book-type book.  Charming! A gem! Guaranteed to make you smile,  and also effective to help children think about the differences between books and other forms of story formats 'It's a Book' by Lane Smith published by MacMillan Childrens Books AND - ironically - it even comes with an animated video trailer!


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Assembly of an iPad Mounting for a Wheelchair

By Robert Stewart on Tuesday 26th March, 2013 at 9:37am

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I've put together a video and uploaded it to YouTube which shows how to mount an iPad to a wheelchair using components supplied by an American company called RAM Mount (which are available to purchase here in the UK).

There are also captions available on this video.


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Digital jotter for the iPad

By Paul Nisbet on Friday 22nd March, 2013 at 3:16pm

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Recently I met a learner in first year in secondary school with a physical disability . She doesn't have the strength to hold books and turn pages, and she gets very tired handwriting. After due assessment and consideration of various devices we all concluded that an iPad was most suitable device for her physically: it's small and light enough for her to handle, and she rests it on her knees and against a desk, so that her hands are in her lap, which reduces fatigue. The iPad on-screen keyboard is just the right size for her to type on without stretching, and since it's touch-sensitive, it seems to require less effort than a physical keyboard.

Essentially, she wants to use the iPad for everything: reading textbooks and resources; completing homework and assessments; taking notes in class; etc etc

So, next questions are:

  • which apps should she use for different tasks and purposes in school?
  • where can she get digital textbooks?
  • how does she receive and send materials to and from teachers?
These seem to be fairly basic and common questions, so I thought I'd share some of my thoughts and findings.

For general note-taking in class ('digital jotters'), I looked at quite a few note-taking apps including the built-in Notes, Daily Notes, EverNote and Note Taker HD, to name but a few, and I  liked the look of Notability, which lets you:

  • Create notes that can contain formatted text, hand writing and drawings (with pencil and pen), sound recordings, photos (either from the camera roll, or taken and inserted directly), clippings from the web, and drawings.
  • Organise your notes into categories and subjects. 
  • Use different paper backgrounds (different colours, lined, square paper).
  • Search your notes.
  • Import and annotate PDFs.
  • Save your notes in cloud service such as DropBox and Google Drive.
  • Send your notes to other apps, and by email, as PDF or RTF. 

It looks ideal for taking notes in class, for gathering and sorting information for topic or research, and for writing short assignments. (In fact, I'm now using it myself for all my note-taking on the iPad.)

There are a few things which could be better with Notability:

  • ‘Speak Selection’ does not work and so you can’t read your notes with text-to-speech.
  • Text cannot be inserted directly on top of a PDF, so you can’t use it very easily to type answers into PDF exams, assessments or homework.
  • It does not have ‘snap to grid’ for easily drawing straight lines. 
  • You cannot easily edit your notes on a desktop or laptop computer: you can only save them as PDF, RTF or text. (For me, if it could share and sync notes with Microsoft OneNote, it would be perfect.)

But of the apps I looked at, and read about, it looks ideal for the secondary school context.

For word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, and particularly for importing and exporting Microsoft Office files, we suggested Apple's own Pages, Numbers and Keynote.

For reading textbooks in PDF (e.g. Hodder Gibson books from us, or scanned books from the Books for All Database), we went for PDF Expert, which has good study and search facilities, and lots of tools for annotation and commenting. It's also good for completing assessments such as the SQA Digital Question Papers. (Why PDF Expert in particular rather than others? While you can read PDFs with iBooks on the iPad, you can't annotate them; the free Adobe Reader app does let you annotate, but PDF Expert has better file management; and I liked PDF Expert's text annotate tool better than iAnnotate's, because you can type directly on the PDF rather than into a separate text field. (iAnnotate has features that PDF Expert doesn't, though, such as voice comments so pupils and staff can record audio notes into the PDF.)

For sharing work with staff, the only practical method in the school at this time is use of email, which is better than nothing but not as good as a file transfer/sharing method such as Edmodo, Dropbox or Google Drive. (The school doesn't use Glow.)

Feedback from the learner about these apps is so far very positive, so we'll see how they work out over time.

How about you? Which apps and techniques have you found helpful in a mainstream secondary context?


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