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Great wee video celebrating communication & AAC

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 6th November, 2012 at 10:57am

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Call Me Maybe

Take a few minutes to watch this uplifting wee video made by new graduates in speech and language therapy, Queen Margaret University College, as part of the RCSLT's Giving Voice campaign. Terrific enthusiasm, good for them!


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StandUp Comedian using AAC

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 6th November, 2012 at 10:02am

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Look out for comedy gigs by 'Lost Voice Guy' Lee Ridley, and do go and see him if you get the chance - he's FUNNY! Breaking down barriers as the first ever stand-up comedian who uses augmentative communication.


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Stuck in Guided Access (iOS 6) - again!

By Sally Millar on Saturday 3rd November, 2012 at 8:43pm

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Reports still coming in of people 'getting 'stuck' in Guided Access mode on iPad, in iOS6. eeek!

Here's a short but reassuring solution, thanks Katrina and Gregg at Spectronics.


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Free online switch games for the Festive Season

By Sally Millar on Friday 2nd November, 2012 at 3:18pm

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Now that Halloween is over, it's time to think ahead....

Fireworks Night - free online switch/space bar/ games to set off fireworks (and many other cheery activities, such as laying eggs, firing at pirate ships, popping ballons, zooming shapes etc.

also singing sheep leads us to the next stage.....the big Chr...m..s word....

Some free simple online switch (or touch, or spacebar) games here, to get in the mood for Christmas, from SpecialBites. Mostly cause and effect level, perhaps most suitable for older kids with complex additional support needs. Also - if your school will allow access - some fun YouTube videos to activate with a switch or spacebar.




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Accessing a Games Console

By Allan Wilson on Wednesday 31st October, 2012 at 4:54pm

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We recently received a request for advice on behalf of a man with progressive muscular dystrophy, who currently enjoys playing games on an Xbox. Unfortunately as his condition progresses he is finding it harder to exert enough pressure with his thumbs to control the device. We have lots of equipment for accessing computers, but we don't have anything suitable for accessing a modern games console and we are definitely not experts on using them.

A bit of digging around on the internet identified some possible solutions:

Firstly, it may be possible to make things easier by adjusting the sensitivity of the buttons on the console. There's a YouTube video that shows how this can be done. It may be that he will have to change to using an interface that allows switch access to the console. The best source of information on these would be the One Switch web site.In theory, it is possible to control an Xbox with an iPhone, using a Tecla Shield interface, but it looks complicated. See the Tecla web site.

Can you help?

Have you had experience of helping people with disabilities access the Xbox and other games consoles? Are there 'accessibility settings' built into the consoles? What external interfaces work best? Is it feasible to control a device by voice commands?


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Haunted House

By Joanna Courtney on Wednesday 31st October, 2012 at 4:25pm

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Try out this spooky switch game.....if you dare!

Catch the monsters as they peer through the windows of the Haunted House.


Go to to play


Happy Halloween!


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Moving Targets Activities for Doorway Online

By Allan Wilson on Wednesday 31st October, 2012 at 3:40pm

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A new switch-accessible activity has been added to the Memory, Matching and Targeting section of the Doorway Online web site.

Moving Targets is an updated version of activities originally created around ten years ago by Philip Whittaker and colleagues within Scottish Borders Council. It provides a suite of fun targeting activities in which the targets are progressively harder to hit and is ideal for both assessment and practice.

It is suitable for almost any form of direct selection from mouse to interactive whiteboard, and switch access is also available. Using a switch, some activities become 'cause and effect' exercises, while the first two allow practice with scanning.

The following activities are available:

  • Vans Upon a Time
  • Fireworks
  • Footballer
  • Popping Outside
  • Tanks for all the Fish


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CALL Live Webinar Available to view: Widgit Software

By Craig Mill on Wednesday 24th October, 2012 at 10:01am

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Widgit Symbols 

In the recent series of CALL Live webinars, Tina Detheridge of Widigt Software provided an informative presentation on Widgit Symbols.  

Tina talked about Widgit’s work in relation to collaborating with diverse groups in both symbol development and in the use of symbols in different settings, e.g. consulting with therapists, teachers and users to enable better symbol support and to make it easier to write well with symbols.  

Tina discussed what makes Widgit Symbols different from other symbols and outlined the various projects that Widgit are involved in. She also explained some of the ways in which Widgit Symbols are being used outside of the traditional SEN environment, focusing on current medical and prison projects. 

To view Tina’s CALL Live  webinar select this link


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FREE 14 day trial for HelpKidzLearn

By Sandra O'Neill on Monday 22nd October, 2012 at 12:27pm

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HelpKidzLearn has a great selection of motivational, fun and accessible games and activities from Inclusive Technology. There are five different sections : Early Years, Games, Stories, Creative and Find Out; with a number of activities in each section. All of the activities can be accessed using a switch(es), touch screen, mouse, joystick, rollerball, or an eye gaze communication solution, by all children including those with special educational needs and learning difficulties.

The two weeks trial is a time limited offer.


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Protect and survive?

By Paul Nisbet on Thursday 18th October, 2012 at 4:35pm

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Local authority and school ICT services are rightly concerned to protect their systems from abuse, hacking and from viruses, and to protect their users' privacy and security. 

In most Scottish schools, learners cannot use their own smartphones or mobile devices to access the internet in school, and social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are blocked.

Unfortunately, a side-effect of locking and blocking is that essential software to enable pupils to access the curriculum may not get installed or that simple adjustments to control panels cannot be made (which we think in many cases contravenes Equality legislation), and that useful internet sites are blocked so that staff and learners cannot access educational content.

But is all this locking and blocking really necessary? Not according to a report from the Nominet Trust.

The cloudlearn project looked at the experiences of five schools that have unlocked and de-blocked their ICT, and the results make interesting reading. Professor Stephen Heppell, and Carole Chapman, the authors of the report, argue that schools that have embraced social media and portable devices achieve greater engagement with learners, and that unblocking is actually less dangerous than restricting the use of social media and learners’ own portable devices.

In addition to the case studies, the report offers a set of policy guidelines for using smartphones and devices, and social media tools in school.

In our field, we have personal experience of working with young people with disabilities who need digital technologies to communicate and access the curriculum, yet who are prevented from using their devices to access school networks or the internet whilst in school. If school and local authority systems can be opened up while maintaining security and safety, it will have a real benefit for these learners.


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iOS 6 - Guided Access

By Sally Millar on Monday 15th October, 2012 at 10:47am

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Have you updated your iPad to iOS 6 yet?  It only takes about 5 minutes and so far we haven't heard of any problems (apart from the widely reported Apple Maps fiasco)

One of the features that we have all - in the ASN field - been waiting for enthusiastically, is the new 'Guided Access' feature, otherwise known as 'Kid Mode'. (Settings, General, Accessibility, Learning).  See here more detailed instructions for setting up Guided Access / Enabling Kid Mode 

This new feature means that you can 'lock' a user into a single App (the one you want them to be using), rather than leaving them free to distract themselves by flicking around all over the iPad and not focusing on anything. As we know, the delights of the iPad are so great that children will often prefer to interact with the iPad itself, rather than to use it as tool to interact with a learning task, or to communicate with others.   

If you've set it up right, you just need to triple click the Home Button and enter your chosen Passcode to exit this mode and unlock the device. But apparently there have been a few problems with people getting stuck and becoming completely 'locked in' to Guided Access mode, and unable to get out again! There is a wee fix here to tell you how to escape from that situation, if it occurs.




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CALL Live Webinar Available to view: Dyslexia Teacher's Toolkit

By Craig Mill on Wednesday 10th October, 2012 at 3:04pm

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CALL Live logoAddressing Dyslexia Teacher's Toolkit

Thanks to Dr. Margaret Crombie for delivering an interesting and lively webinar on the Addressing Dyslexia Teacher’s Toolkit. 
Margaret provided a clear and concise overview of the Addressing Dyslexia Teacher’s Toolkit covering the main areas including Starting the Process, What to Look for, Planning, Evaluating and Reporting.  
As part of the presentation Margaret talked about the importance of understanding the ‘definition of dyslexia’ and drawing reference to issues such as emotional and behavioural factors, visual factors and drawing conclusions based on a holistic approach. 
Margaret also highlighted some of the new resources including free downloads, case studies and a new technology section
With delegates from across the UK including Orkney, there was a great deal of interest and discussion from everyone who attended - one delegate commented "I really appreciated this webinar. I shall be recommending it to all my schools, and to the other educational psychologists."

The recording lasts approximately 30 minutes and can be downloaded from the link below:


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CALL Live Webinar: Dyslexia Teachers’ Toolkit

By Craig Mill on Tuesday 9th October, 2012 at 1:09pm

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Find out about the revised Dyslexia Teachers Toolkit

Dr. Margaret Crombie will be hosting the next CALL Live Webinar on 10th October (Wednesday) at Margaret will discuss and demonstrate the recently revised Dyslexia Teachers’ Toolkit.

A bit about Margaret…

Dr Margaret Crombie is an associate lecturer with the Open University (Difficulties in Literacy Development course) and is also supervisor to a number of doctorate students. She chairs the AMBDA (Associate Membership of the British Dyslexia Association) panel for the Open University.  This is the panel that approves applications for accreditation of assessment and teaching practice for those working in the dyslexia field.

Margaret is also a member of the British Dyslexia Association Accreditation Board and of Dyslexia Scotland.  

Margaret has considerable previous experience of working in the dyslexia field, not least as a specialist teacher.  Margaret has researched into various aspects of dyslexia, and has chaired the working group that has produced the Addressing Dyslexia Toolkit. 

Book your place

To book your place simply select this link and drop Craig an email


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Parents Information Day at CALL, Focus on iPads

By Sally Millar on Monday 8th October, 2012 at 6:38pm

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Calling all parents of children with additional support needs!

Interested in maybe using the iPad with your son /daughter? 

This course will provide you with a pile of iPad Top Tips and useful information about how to pick good Apps and iPad accessories, and how the iPad can be managed at home and at school.


Do come to the CALL Scotland Parent Information Day on Saturday 24 November in Edinburgh, from 10am - 2pm

The course is free of charge and refreshments and a light lunch will be provided. The course is ONLY open to parents.

For more information, download a programme and booking form here, or contact CALL (

Numbers are limited due to lack of space, and we need to know numbers for catering, so this is not a 'drop-in' day. Please book in here as soon as possible to be sure of getting a place. 


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CALL Live Webinar Available to view: Co:Writer 6

By Craig Mill on Tuesday 2nd October, 2012 at 2:21pm

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CALL Live Webinar: recording now available to view

As part of the on-going CALL Live webinar series, Jamie Munro of Inclusive Technology provided an informative and interesting session on Co:Writer today.  As someone who has used Co:Writer for many years I learnt a great deal from the session, so thanks to Jamie. 

Jamie covered some of the basic features in Co:Writer but also explored a few advanced features and offered some good ideas to support pupils with literacy difficulties, such as selecting existing topic dictionaries (and creating new topics dictionaries) to help with spelling. Jamie also covered how to make the most of flexible spelling, setting preferences in word clouds, word lists, managing user settings and much more. 

View the recording 

As with all CALL Live webinars, today’s session was recorded so you view the webinar at time that’s convenient to you. The session lasted for 20 minutes and you can view the recording by selecting this link.

Next webinar

Dr. Margaret Crombie will be hosting the next CALL Live webinar  on 10th October (Wednesday) at  Margaret will discuss and demonstrate the recently revised Dyslexia Teachers’ Toolkit.



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