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

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

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 The books were originally made for learners with physical disability or handwriting difficulties, so that they can just type their answers on screen, but pupils with dyslexia or reading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

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

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

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

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

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New blog by parent of a Scottish child who uses AAC

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

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

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British Sign Language courses at Donaldsons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Scottish Children's Book Awards

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

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

Bookbug Readers (3 - 7 years)

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

Younger Readers (8 - 11 years)

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

Older Readers (11 - 16 years)

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

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

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

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ICT and Inclusion - Informative and inspirational

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

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

Practical Approaches

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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ICT and Inclusion - What's Happening in Glasgow?

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

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

School Presentations to the Fore!

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

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

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

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

Excited about iPads and Tablets?

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

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

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

Its Not Just About Tablets!

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

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

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

Prize Draw

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

It's Not too Late to Register!

Register Now!

 

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ICT and Inclusion - What's Happening in Edinburgh?

By Allan Wilson on Thursday 13th June, 2013 at 10:02am

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We're looking forward to the ICT and Inclusion Day at CALL Scotland in Edinburgh on Tuesday 18th June, run in partnership with our friends from the BRITE Initiative.

iPads Lead the Way!

There's a definite iPad theme to this year's ICT and Inclusion, showing the level of excitement created by these devices. Edinburgh's Digital Learning Team will be showing how iPads are being used in schools across Edinburgh and will be showing some of the fantastic resources they have created - and made available to anyone who wants them through their web site. Paul Nisbet and Craig Mill from CALL will be giving a presentation on using iPads to support learners with reading and writing difficulties. In another session, Craig will be talking about the use of iBook Author to create engaging interactive books. Niall Hardy from BRITE will talk about effective iPad use for students, not just in terms of individual apps, but also in the development of study skills and strategies.

Several exhibitors will be demonstrating apps in their presentations. Inclusive Technology have new apps to show, while Crick Software will be demonstrating their new Clicker apps, designed to complement Clicker 6. Therapy Box and Ability World will be demonstrating apps to support communication.

We're not ignoring the other tablets, of course. Fil McIntyre from BRITE will be comparing iPads, Android and Windows tablets, particularly with regard to accessibility, while Shirley Lawson and David Gilmour will be reporting on the use of ChromeBooks in East Lothian. Iansyst will be demonstrating their CapturaTalk reading and writing support app for Android devices.

Its Not Just About Tablets!

There's a lot more to see and hear about than just iPads and other tablets at ICT and Inclusion. Optelec and Dolphin will be demonstrating some of the latest equipment to support learners with a visual impairment, while Concept Northern, Claro Software and Iansyst will be focusing on the use of technology to support learners with dyslexia. Paul Nisbet will be presenting on how to make inclusive digital learning resources in PDF format - also very relevant for people with reading and writing difficulties.

Communication is also an important theme for this year's ICT and Inclusion - Dean Robertson, a pupil from Oaklands School will be using PowerPoint to describe his journey through school. Sally Millar from CALL will be demonstrating resources designed to promote support for people who use augmentative and alternative communication. Smartbox AT, Logan Technologies and Mayer Johnson will all have resources and equipment to support learners with communication difficulties.

Make sure you also visit the Sherston stand to find out about their latest software to support a broad range of learners. Sometimes the 'smaller' stands can be among the most interesting ones at ICT and Inclusion. Don't miss Doorway Online to find out about the latest resources available on this fabulous web site. Andrew Manches from Edinburgh University (aka Pling Toys) uses technology in revolutionary ways to create engaging toys for learning, while Claire Murray will have some great resources on her Emotion Works stand.

Prize Draw

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

It's Not too Late to Register!

Register Now!

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Free exhibition: ICT and Inclusion 2013

By Robert Stewart on Wednesday 12th June, 2013 at 2:54pm

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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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Calling all Scottish AAC Users!

By Joanna Courtney on Thursday 6th June, 2013 at 2:27pm

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In case you didn't already know, the Summer 2013 edition of the ContAACt newsletter, produced by Augmentative Communication in Practise: Scotland, is available to download now!

On page 5 you will read about Lee Ridley 'Lost Voice Guy,' the first Stand Up Comedian to use AAC, who will be doing a one-off gig for Scottish AAC Users on 19th August 2013 from 10am-3pm at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh, at the 'Finding Our Voices' event.

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

It's also FREE and lunch is included. For more details and to book a place please email enquiries@acipscotland.org.uk or download a booking form here, so you can get the date in your diary! You can also call 0131 651 6068 for further information.

Competition Time!

Fancy YOURSELF as a bit of a comedian? ContAACt is running a competition (on page 5) to find the best joke from an AAC User and keep Lee on his toes!

Please email your your entries to enquiries@acipscotland.org.uk by 31st July. Lee will judge the competition himself and there are great 'Lost Voice Guy' prizes to be won.

The winner(s) will be announced at the 'Finding Our Voices' event on 19th August, so come on give us your best gags!

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Problems with Co:Writer, netbooks and Numlock keys?

By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 5th June, 2013 at 3:09pm

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We've had reports of Co:Writer 6 not working properly on netbook and laptop computers, particularly those running Windows 7. This seems to be a particular problem with the thousands of Toshiba NB250/300/500 machines bought through the Procurement Scotland arrangement.

Here's how to solve it for a Toshiba NB300 with Windows 7:

  1. Start up the computer and run Co:Writer.
  2. If you see this message either immediately, or when you try and open your word processor:
  3. then hold down the FN key and press and release F10
  4. Then do it again.
  5. Co:writer should now work properly.

In our tests, we found that you only need to do this the first time you run Co:Writer. Once you've got it working the first time it seems to work properly from then on even if you log off and log on, put it to sleep, restart or shut down and start up.

Visit the Don Johnston web site if you want to find out more about this problem.

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Return to Voice Comments

By Allan Wilson on Friday 31st May, 2013 at 4:00pm

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Back in the days of Windows XP and Word 2003 (possibly not long ago for many!), the Voice Comments / Voice Notes facility in Microsoft Word provided a valuable tool for allowing a pupil with writing difficulties to record answers to questions directly into a Word document and to save the document so that the teacher could listen back to their answer at a convenient time. This was NOT voice recognition, which could be too difficult for many pupils to master, but instead involved making a short voice recording and embedding it in the document. We thought it was a great tool to allow a pupil to quickly record an answer to a question, rather than struggling to type an answer, as a result of a physical disability or a writing difficulty such as dyslexia. It was particularly useful for younger pupils for whom speech recognition was not a realistic option at that stage. (For some pupils, regular use of voice comments could lead on to successful use of speech recognition at a later stage in their development.)

Unfortunately, although later versions of Windows and Word had a Voice Comment / Note facility, it became so complicated to use that it was impossible for pupils to make use of it. Various 'work arounds' were tried, but nothing matched the basic simplicity and effectiveness of the original Voice Comments facility in Word as a means for a pupil to record their answers - until now.

Yesterday TextHelp launched Read and Write Gold Version 11. The very first new feature that they highlight is a new VoiceNote facility. We haven't had an opportunity to try it yet, but from the video introduction it appears to do exactly what we would want, letting a pupil record an answer to a question in a Word document by voice and save the file for the teacher to review later. The pupil can play back the recording and if they want to change something it is easy to re-record their answer.

We were quite excited by this new development and welcomed it on Twitter. Within hours Alasdair King from  Claro Software contacted us to say that he had some time ago developed a free Add-on for Word 2007 and Word 2010, which could be used to record directly into a Word document. We downloaded it from the Claro downloads site and gave it a try. It works very well.

Once Recorder for Word has been installed, open the document you want to use (e.g. an existing worksheet that you want to make more accessible) and add prompts for the pupil to use for adding comments, e.g. saying 'Record your answer to Question 1 here'. Save the document.

If you (or the pupil) open the document and click on the Add-Ins Tab, you'll see a new set of big buttons appear at the top of the screen, marked Record, Pause and Stop. The pupil should place the cursor at the prompt, click on the Record button, dictate their answer and click on Stop. An icon for the recording will appear at the start of the paragraph with the cursor. It would have been better if the icon appeared at the cursor, but this is a minor issue for most pupils as it is easy to move the recording to the end of the question, provided that the pupil can use a mouse or suitable alternative.

 

It is a good idea for the pupil to listen to the recording, to make sure that it was properly picked up by the microphone - this can be done by double clicking on the recording icon to play it. The pupil can re-record their answer if they want to change it, or if there was some problem with the recording. Unfortunately, they can't record over the top of the existing icon, they have to make a new recording and delete the old one. Once the pupil is happy with the answer they can move on to the next question and when they have completed the task the file can be saved. The recordings will be embedded in the file when it is saved so that the teacher can come along later, open the document and listen to the pupil's answers.

 

You wait ten years for a bus, then two come at once...

It has been a long wait for a suitable replacement for the Word 2003 Voice Comment feature. but now people have a choice of two very functional options. If a school is already considering investing in Read and Write Gold, then the addition of the Voice Note facility is a definite enhancement to the extensive collection of reading and writing support tools already present. On the other hand, if a school is just looking to add a facility for adding voice recordings to a Word document, then the Claro option would be an excellent choice, particularly if they are looking for a low cost option. We understand that the voice recording facility will be added to some future Claro products.

 

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The Future of AAC in Scotland - presentations available

By Sally Millar on Friday 31st May, 2013 at 2:57pm

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NHS Education for Scotland (NES) recently hosted a dissemination seminar in Edinburgh, to update and share information about the development of the Right to Speak project, whose aim is to improve AAC services in Scotland.

Two people who use AAC, Rachael Monk and Barry Smith, gave illuminating presentations about what AAC means to them. Video of those presentations should be available in due course.

Also at that seminar, Communication Matters launched the recently published Final Report of the AAC Evidence Base project. The results of this UK-wide research project were discussed with particular reference to Scotland.

The original Right to Speak report, and three key presentations from the recent dissemination seminar, including the one relating to the CM AAC Evidence Base Report (with a Scottish perspective) are available for viewing and printing, on the Communication Matters website.

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Using Proloquo2Go text for Story Writing

By Joanna Courtney on Thursday 30th May, 2013 at 3:02pm

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I was asked recently by a teacher in a primary school about whether a child using an iPad with Proloqu2Go for communication could use the text she created within the app for story writing and recording her written work.

At the time, the only way to do this was by creating a page for 'stories' and saving spoken phrases from the 'Recents' view onto buttons to retell a story later on.

That has now changed with the release of Proloquo2Go version 3.0, which you can update to FREE if you have already bought the app. As well as some new Australian voices, expressive voice capabilities (words like wow, yummy, oh no! said with feeling by the synthetic voices) and scanning for switch users, the new version enables you to copy text from the message window into other apps.

This means you can use your spoken text output in a text message, email, on Facebook or Twitter or within a story writing app (any app that accepts text basically) e.g. Clicker apps, Book Creator, notebook etc

Let me show you how it works.

First the child types in what they want to say in their story using Proloquo2Go e.g. It is a sunny day

Then the child (if possible) or a helper selects the copy button:

They then open the app into which they want to copy the text e.g. My Story (lovely little story app 1.49)

and hold down their finger in the area where the text is to go and then press paste:

et Voila, the text appears!

The child can then either use the app's simple drawing tools to do a picture to go with their text or use photos from the camera roll or take a new photo straight onto the story page:

You can't record the voice output from Proloquo2Go into the app, so if you want the story page spoken out too, someone will need to record it.

However, this is great for AAC users who want to do some creative story writing and record their written work as the story will be saved within the MyStory app and can also be emailed to the teacher to read, save, print out and mark.

Also nice to take home to show parents or carers.

Happy story writing! 

 

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CALL's CPD Programme for 2013 - 2014

By Allan Wilson on Wednesday 22nd May, 2013 at 4:09pm

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The CALL Scotland CPD Programme for 2013 - 2014 has now been formally launched and is on its way to schools throughout Scotland. We generally send it to Learning Support in the case of secondary schools and to the Head Teacher for primaries and special schools. Let us know if you would like to receive your own paper copy. Details of the courses we are offering are available on the CALL web site. Booking is now open.

Communication and Technology

CALL Scotland courses cover a broad range of topics relating to ICT to support pupils with additional support needs. Courses are aimed mainly at teachers, therapists and other professionals working with these learners, but parents are also welcome to attend if a topic is of particular interest to them. Get in touch with us for information on our ‘Parent-Rate’.

iPads

As a result of high demand for our ‘hands-on’ iPad courses, this year we are running more and have also added an Introduction to iPads course to our programme. If you are new to iPads, we encourage you to attend this course before one of the more advanced ones. Topics for these courses include Picture and Symbol/Text Apps to Support Communication, and the use of iPads to support learners with dyslexia or with a visual impairment. These courses have a limited number of places and fill up fast, so book early!

SQA Digital Exams

Over 1,300 candidates from 173 schools/centres used digital papers for SQA exams in 2012. SQA have announced that from August, using human readers and scribes will not be regarded as 'reasonable adjustments' for National Literacy Units. CALL’s courses on Creating and Implementing Digital Exams will be especially relevant for the coming session as digital papers increasingly become the most appropriate format for many learners with reading and writing difficulties and physical disabilities.

Hands-On

Many of the courses have a significant ‘hands-on’ component, giving an ample opportunity to explore programs and devices with lots of support readily available from CALL staff. We have our own sets of laptops and iPads for training courses.

For Parents

The programme includes two events specifically aimed at parents. The Information Day in November (Date to be confirmed) is a ‘parent/carer-only event, giving a chance to ask questions and to find out more about technology without having to keep an eye on the children. We also have a more child-centred event, The Family Fun Day (Date also to be confirmed), which we organise in conjunction with Augmentative Communication in Practice: Scotland. Here, parents and children can try equipment and take part in various activities together. Further details will be announced in the near future. To be sure of getting information about these, sign up for our regular email newsletter.

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