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For your Christmas photos - Pictello is going cheap until 1st January - or go even cheaper!

By Sally Millar on Wednesday 19th December, 2012 at 7:13pm

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From now until 1st January 2013, Pictello, the versatile photostory App for iPad is going cheap - at 8.99 instead of 13.99.  There's also a competition to enter - prizes available.

But don't worry if that's still too dear- there are lots of similar Apps for much less money

Go to the iTunes Store and check out

  • Fotobabble (iPhone version works fine on iPad) - free - talking postcards
  • My Story - 1.49 - you can write or draw on the photo
  • Book Creator (the absolute (Rolls Royce of photo story makers) - 1.49  - also plays video & sound files
  • My Pictures Talk - 2.99 -plays video as well as photos, super easy and quick to use


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It must be Christmas!

By Allan Wilson on Friday 14th December, 2012 at 3:14pm

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This is the time of year when lots of people make available Christmas-themed materials suitable for pupils with additional support needs in schools. Here are a few of the resources that we know about:

  • BBC CBeebies site - Their home page features an Advent Calendar, with games and short video clips featuring popular characters from children's television. There are lots of other Christmas resources available on the site - just search for Christmas.
  • Ian Bean has created a page of simple cause and effect Christmas resources that are accessible for switch and touch screen users. Great fun!
  • Makaton Advent Calendar - Very nice calendar featuring video clips of children signing along to songs and stories. The 'door' associated with each activity cannot be opened until the appropriate day.
  • SpecialBites - Switch accessible videos with a Christmas theme.
  • HelpKidzLearn - Advent Calendar with a new accessible actvity every day (Advent Calendars are definitely in fashion this year!
  • Father Christmas - Video Webchat - Schools are invited to send questions in to Santa in time for the Times Educational Supplement webchat on 19th December.
  • Christmas Treasures for Children with SEN - TES Special Needs Pinterest resource with links to lots of Christmas resources.
  • Spread Some Christmas Cheer - blog by Katie Lyons from Spectronics featuring a number of Christmas resources, including the Toca Hair Salon - Christmas Gift app for the iPad.

Feel free to add other ones that you know about!

In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas from everybody at CALL Scotland!


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New Clicker Apps

By Sandra O'Neill on Friday 14th December, 2012 at 12:42pm

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Crick have just released 2 Clicker Apps they had said the official launch would be at BETT so they have actually got this out earlier than expected! I’ve just installed them and these are my first thoughts.

In the Clicker Docs App (17.99) there are some grids/WordBanks available from Learning Grids which is just a couple of taps away in the app itself. It then automatically saves the grid so it is available whenever you want to use it. Or you can create your own wordbanks. The speech option allows you to have it set letter by letter, word by word or full sentence. You can also use the ‘Shift Speech’ button to have individual words/cells read out from the grid, predictor or document. There is a choice of 3 voices (Rachel, UK; Heather, US; Tyler, ANZ). Prediction is available and SoundsLike Predictor is an option. There is a choice of number of words from 250 to 60000 but you don’t seem to be able to add new ones. It did seem very slow as I typed in or used the word grid.

Clicker Sentences app (14.99) is for writing sentences using whole words. You can add pictures to the grid from the iPad photos library (or take a photo).

To get to the next screen you have to swipe so you can build up the piece of writing. You can choose to have a ‘model sentence’ or a ‘model sentence pop’ for pupils needing a bit more support. Using the speech is the same as in the Clicker docs.


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The Grid 2 Webinar: Introducing Fast Talker 2

By Robert Stewart on Friday 7th December, 2012 at 3:06pm

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  • Event date: 12th December, 2012
  • Event time: 1.00pm - 1.30pm
  • Presenters: Craig Mill and Dougal Hawes

Fast Talker 2 is Sensory Software's most complete text-based grid set for use with The Grid 2. It combines powerful communication grids with some of the most popular modern computer applications such as Facebook, YouTube and Skype. Best of all, Fast Talker 2 is very easy to use.

About the presenter

Dougal Hawes has been working in the field of assistive technology since 2004. He worked on the development of The Grid 2 AAC software and now works as Business Development Manager for Sensory Software and Smartbox Assistive Technology.

He has a wide range of experience and has worked a lot with people with Motor Neurone Disease. This is the user group that inspired his latest development project, Fast Talker 2 a complete communication and social networking solution.

Find out more about our CALLlive webinars and book this webinar!


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Accessible Versions of Scottish Children's Book Awards Shortlist

By Allan Wilson on Friday 30th November, 2012 at 12:58pm

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We've been distributing CDs with accessible versions of the shortlisted titles for this year's Scottish Book Trust's Scottish Children's Book Awards for the last couple of weeks. (See previous Blog for details of the Awards and the shortlisted titles.)

Children in schools throughout Scotland are asked to choose their favourite from their age category:

  • Bookbug Readers (3 - 7 years)
  • Younger Readers (8 - 11 years)
  • Older Readers (12 - 16 years)

Pupils with a print disability (e.g. visual impairment, dyslexia, some physical disabilities) who are not able to use standard books can benefit from having the books in an accessible electronic format available from CALL Scotland. This year, we have made the books available in the following formats:

BookBug Readers - PowerPoint and PDF. The PowerPoint files have recorded narration, i.e. children will hear a human voice reading the text on a page when they turn it. There are PowerPoint files specially set up for children using a switch. The PDF files have been set up so that the text can be read out loud by computer using either Adobe Reader and Read OutLoud, or Nook Study. Instructions for both are provided. We recommend using either of the Scottish Voices, Stuart or Heather, available for schools and parents from the Scottish Voice web site.

Younger Readers - Standard and Large Print (18 point) PDF and Daisy. Again, there are instructions for reading the PDFs using Adobe Reader or Nook Study. AMIS Daisy Reader software is provided for reading the Daisy versions.

Older Readers - Standard and Large Print (18 point) PDF and Daisy. Full instructions are provided.

Getting Accessible Copies of the Shortlisted Books

If you need an accessible copy of the books for a particular pupil, go to the CALL Scotland Books for All web site and fill in the form giving your name, the pupil name and letting us know which set of books is required. We'll send you the books on a CD.

Taking Part

Schools wanting to take part in deciding the winners in each category have to register with the Scottish Book Trust by 31st December and pupils can vote for their favourite book until 8th February.


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Customising the background/wallpaper on the iPad

By Craig Mill on Tuesday 27th November, 2012 at 4:34pm

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Despite the popularity of the iPad it is surprising there are only 23 background wallpapers to choose from.

These consist of a range of mellow or atmospheric images and scenes including dewy grass, a cobbled street, tree rings, a carved totem pole, flowers, crashing waves, denim and other patterned options.

Although you can download many other wallpaper scenes from a range of online sources, they tend to follow a similar vein and lack the simplicity of a plain natural background.

Many users may find the selection of wallpapers currently on offer (or as the iPad’s default) unsuitable, distracting and/or even difficult to view. I personally use a yellow background/wallpaper, and although it isn't a perfect solution, it does help me when I'm looking at the screen for long periods of time.

Example of background/wallpaper for the iPad.

Choose and download a colour wallpaper of your choice

To help, CALL have developed a selection of plain, simple and natural coloured wallpapers which you can download and use on your iPad for free.

Although you can’t set the wallpaper to function as a global colour (e.g. in Settings and other Apps) you can use one of the plain coloured backgrounds when viewing the main screens and when moving between screens of Apps.

Choose from 11 different plain colours

We currently have 11 colours that you can freely download and use on your iPad, regardless of the model (iPad 1, 2 or New iPad).

I recommend that you download your chosen background by using your iPad. If you are unable to download the background then try sending it by email to your iPad (see below for instructions to set the background/wallpaper).

Montage of iPads with colour backgrounds

Download the Yellow background

Download the Cream background

Download the Mauve background

Download the Rose background Rose background

Download the Purple background Purple background

Download the Orange background Orange background

Download the Mustard background Mustard background

Download the Blue background

Download the Green background Green background

Download the Grey background Grey background

Download the White background

Changing the background with your chosen wallpaper

First, you will need to download one of the backgrounds and save it to the Photos App which comes as a pre-installed App with your iOS. When the downloaded file appears tap and hold your finger until the pop-up menu appears. Select 'Save Image' - the image automatically saves to the Photos App.

Next, choose "Brightness & Wallpaper" from the menu on the left side of the settings screen.

Choose the Wallpaper tab under the brightness settings to go to the Wallpaper settings there is also an arrow just to the right of the two iPad images.

Look for the wallpaper you have just downloaded and select it.

After choosing your selected wallpaper, you will be taken to a preview of the picture you want to use for the iPad's background. 

To set the background, either tap the button labelled 'Set Lock Screen' to set the photo for your lock screen, 'Set Home Screen' to make the photo appear underneath your app icons or 'Set Both' for the background to be used as the global image or colour for your iPad.

If you require a 'global' colour solution you can purchase transparency coloured overlays which you fit onto the iPad's screen.

You can download the complete tutorial in PDF by selecting this link


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Parent Information Day on iPads

By Allan Wilson on Monday 26th November, 2012 at 3:33pm

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Nearly 50 parents of children with additional support needs came to CALL on Saturday for our Parent Information Day on iPads.During the course of the day there was a series of presentations by CALL staff on different aspects of the use of the iPad to support learning and communication, along with exhibition space with various stands where visitors could have more in-depth discussions with CALL staff and browse through some of the extensive information downloadable from the internet on the use of iPads to support learning.Stuart and Paul provided an overview of the use of the iPad to read books available in different electronic formats (primarily ePub and PDF), using apps including iBooks, iWordQ and VoiceDream Reader.

In a parallel session, Sally demonstrated a number of picture-based apps that could be used to support communication, including BitsBoard, Book Creator, Sounding Board and GoTalk Now.

The morning finished with a presentation by Craig highlighting basic functions of the iPad, such as file management and the creation of folders, and the accessibility features of the iPad.After lunch there was time for people to browse through a vast array of information resources (listed in a handout) and to ask questions. Many people took the opportunity to buy CALL's book on the iPad, iPads for Communication, Access, Literacy and Learning, available as a free download, or to purchase in paper format from CALL.

What people thought of the Information Day

Here are some comments made by people attending the Information Day:

  • "CALL is a brilliant discovery for us, and I feel it should be promoted to EVERY dyslexic kid as a matter of course - by law!"
  • " I liked the depth & breadth of experience and approachability of presenters."


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Talking Glove

By Sally Millar on Friday 23rd November, 2012 at 10:12am

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A rather amazing new development by two engineering students - a glove that  'translates' a hand gesture into a spoken output. The glove can 'learn' a large number of differentiated gestures (but would different wearers, if physically impaired,  be able to make clearly differentiated gestures consistently?)

This is like signalling / simplified signing rather than 'traditional' use of voice output technology, or rather is an interesting kind of merger between the two.


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Recordable Bar Story Sequencer

By Allan Wilson on Thursday 22nd November, 2012 at 2:44pm

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We recently loaned a Recordable Bar story sequencer to a Scottish charity which provides day services for people with disabilities. They were initially going to use it in their cafeteria to help people make choices from a menu. Feedback on the loan has been very positive:

"We used this piece of equipment as a menu board for a group with diverse communication needs and they all loved being able to make their choice."

The device was "really accessible, met the needs of most of the group and could be used for so much more."

The charity have now bought eight of the Recordable Bars from Inclusive Technology and will be using them for a variety of purposes to help the people who use their services.

The CALL Loan Bank can be used to assess whether a piece of equipment meet's a client's need without having to risk spending money on a device that may or may not be suitable.


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New Books on Dyslexia

By Allan Wilson on Wednesday 21st November, 2012 at 12:49pm

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The British Dyslexia Association have recently published some new books covering different aspects of dyslexia. The full list is available from the store on their web site. We have purchased six of the new titles for the CALL Library:

  • Dyslexia and Useful Technology, edited by EA Draffen
  • Dyslexia in Education: A Guide for Teachers and Teaching Assistants, by Sue Thurtle
  • Dyslexia and Parents, by Margaret Malpas
  • Dyslexia: Early Intervention by Judith Stansfield
  • Maths Learning Difficulties, Dyslexia and Dyscalculia, by Steve Chinn
  • Dyslexia Friendly Schools: Good Practice Guide, edited by Katrina Cochrane and Kate Saunders

CALL Scotland has a reference library, generally open between 9am and 5pm, available to teachers, therapists, students and anyone else with an interest in augmentative communication, assistive technology and education. It is best to phone beforehand to make sure that the Information Officer will be available to give you any help you need. Tel 0131 651 6235.


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How (not) to teach AAC use

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 20th November, 2012 at 12:08pm

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Brilliant (and honest and funny) insights here from a parent of a young child learning to use a Talker. Every single Teacher, Additional Support Needs Assistant, therapist, parent - and everyone else -  needs to read this! It is a summary of the three most important things about teaching and learning AAC.


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Ivona MiniReader free text-to-speech reader

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 20th November, 2012 at 11:10am

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One very common question we get asked is "what do you recommend for reading out the SQA Digital Question Papers?" 
There are several good programs for this such as TextHelp Read and Write Gold, ClaroRead, Co:Writer and Penfriend but if you have no money and you want a nice simple tool for your Windows computer, take a look at the Ivona MiniReader. It's very straightforward - select the text you want to read and click 'Play', and it reads reliably from PDFs, Word files, the internet - anything provided you can select the text.
A technician recently asked if the licence allows for it to be installed on all the computers in a school, and so I contacted Ivona to ask: Piotr Syrokwarz of Ivona says "Of course you can use MiniReader at schools".

MiniReader Quick Guide (download it from here)

Ivona MiniReader is a simple text reader which adds a floating toolbar on the screen and can read out text from almost any program Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, internet browsers etc.. MiniReader can use the free Scottish voice Heather and Stuart and most other voices on your computer.

Download and install

Go to and click on the Free Download button. Follow the instructions to install MiniReader.
When you install the software, it offers you the option to install some of the Ivona voices for 30 day trial we suggest that you decline this offer and untick the Start the Ivona voices installation, unless unless you are interested in evaluating the voices. 

Reading text with MiniReader

Click Start > All programs > IVONA > IVONA MiniReader
Open your PDF document of web page, select some text then click on the Play button (or press CTR+SHIFT+SPACE), and MiniReader will read it out. Click Pause or press the keyboard shortcut again to pause the speech. 
Double click on a word to select it, triple click to select a line and quadruple click to select the whole page.
You can switch between the Mini and Full toolbar by clicking on the Show/Hide button. The Full toolbar lets you change voice and adjust speed and volume:
Some limitations of MiniReader compared to other paid-for text readers are that you have to manually select the text to be read, it doesn’t highlight the text as it reads, and there is no pronunciation dictionary. The hyperlinks to encourage you to 'Buy IVONA Reader' and 'Buy IVONA Voice' might also be distracting for some learners.
The paid-for Ivona Reader comes with extra voices, can convert text to MP3 files, has a reading window that does highlight the text as it reads, and adds reading buttons to internet browsers, Word and email.
The paid-for text readers like Read and Write Gold, ClaroRead, Co:Writer and Penfriend also have many other features and tools such as word prediction, phonetic spellchecker, dictionaries, scanning and OCR etc. 


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Switch adapted Nerf gun

By Paul Nisbet on Friday 16th November, 2012 at 4:07pm

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Yesterday we hosted a course delivered by the great Ian Bean, on switches and switch-operated technology, and during lunch I gave a short demo of my latest favourite switch-operated toy: a Nerf Havock Fire dart gun.

I set this up for the CALL Family Day earlier this year, and it was pretty popular with the young people on the course. And the adults too. And me.

Ian seemed to like it and his tweet has apparently being doing the rounds, so I thought it was worth a blog.

Craig shot this video of it in action.....


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CALL Live Webinar: Clicker 6

By Craig Mill on Thursday 15th November, 2012 at 10:46am

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CALL Live webinarWhat’s new in Clicker 6?

Bryan Adamson, who recently joined Crick Software as their Scottish Educational Consultant, will be hosting the next CALL Live webinar (free) on Tuesday 20th November at 1pm. 

Clicker is well established and widely used to provide literacy support for pupils with a wide range of additional support needs.

The latest version, Clicker 6, allows pupils to work more independently. Clicker 6 also helps teachers to easily and quickly create Clicker Set resources  for individual pupils or groups of pupils.

What will the Clicker 6 webinar cover?

The webinar will provide an overview of the ways in which Clicker 6 supports reading and writing  and will also show how Clicker 6 can be easily tailored to meet the needs of individual pupils.

The new ‘wizards’ that are used to create resources will also be demonstrated.

Read more and book your place on the free Clicker 6 webinar now.


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Periodic Table of AAC

By Allan Wilson on Wednesday 14th November, 2012 at 10:10am

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There was considerable interest in the 'Periodic Table of AAC', displayed on the CALL Scotland stand at the Augmentative Communication in Practice: Scotland Study Day on the use of iPads for communication in Dunfermline last week.

The Periodic Table of AAC very cleverly presents key points relating to Augmentative and Alternative Communication in the visual form of a Periodic Table. The key points are categorised under the following headings:

  • Guiding Beliefs
  • AAC Competencies
  • Instructional and Implementation Tips
  • Communication Functions
  • Adult Support Tips
  • Assessment Considerations

If you have access to an A3 colour printer, print it out as a poster providing useful tips and points to remember when using AAC in school.

The Table was devised by Kate Ahern, a teacher of learners with multiple or significant special needs from Massachusetts. Kate writes the fabulous Teaching Learners with Multiple Needs blog - a great resource for anybody using Augmentative and Alternative Communication and other technology to support pupils with severe and complex disabilities.


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