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Bright Red textbooks now available on the Books for All Database

By Paul Nisbet on Thursday 2nd July, 2015 at 1:29pm

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BrightRed National 4 and Higher Study Guides are now available on the Books for All Database! We are very grateful to John MacPherson and the team at BrightRed for giving us permission to make these files available to learners with print disabilities across Scotland. 

The books are PDFs that learners can access on computers using free Adobe Reader or Foxit Reader software, on iPads using a variety of apps such as the built-in iBooks, ClaroPDF (now with the Heather Scottish voice!), GoodReader or PDF Expert 5, or on Android tablets using for example ezPDF Reader

Why is this good? This comment we recieved yesterday from a secondary school teacher in Moray sums it up nicely: 

"I find this site invaluable because we can download on to iPads and then the screen and fonts can be adapted for dyslexic students and students with sight issues."

The books available to date are:

BrightRed Study Guides for National 4

BrightRed Study Guides for Higher



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New Maths in Action S3-2 in 18 point Large Print now available

By Paul Nisbet on Monday 29th June, 2015 at 4:26pm

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Thanks once more to Marie Lawson in Shetland who has contributed New Maths in Action 32 in 18 point Large Print - all 629 pages of it! 

This adds to Large Print versions of the 11, 12, 21, 22 and 31 books that Marie has already provided to the database. 

Marie has retyped and laid out the entire book in large print and the result is much 'cleaner' and less cluttered than the original, as well as being in a larger font.

Learners with visual or perceptual difficulties will benefit, and it also looks good on an iPad.  


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ICT to make information and learning accessible

By Stuart Aitken on Monday 1st June, 2015 at 5:41pm

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New European Union Guidelines

The European Union has brought out new Guidelines for Accessible Information. These cover how to make information accessible for learning and covers books, worksheets, video, audio, PowerPoints, PDFs and more. Following the steps set out in the Guidelines should  mean that learners with visual impairment, physical disability, dyslexia or other form of support need have much better access books, worksheets and other materials.

The intended audience for the Guidelines is wide, covering:

  • school staff
  • librarians
  • colleges and universities
  • publishers
  • support groups and voluntary organisations to name but a few. 

  Together with Education Scotland and Enquire, CALL attended a recent EU meeting held in Riga, Latvia.  CALL's attention was on the ICT4IAL or ICT for Information Accessibility in Learning event, the third and final one in the series on this topic. 

Participants had all contributed to the guidelines and it was now a chance to hear about and agree the final version. A two-step approach is taken with concrete examples included for each step. 

  • Step 1 describes how to make information accessible. It does this for text accessibility, image accessibility and audio accessibility.
  • Step 2 describes how to make other media information access - electronic documents, online resources / websites, or print. 

Following the process set out in Step 1 allows Step 2 to build upon it.

Usually the EU confines itself to making policy and setting out recommendations. In this case, they implemented their own policy and did a fine job in the process. The EU Agency has revamped completely their ICT4IAL website area. More accessible versions of the Guidelines are now available in:

  Why take this step?

The European Union is gradually tightening policies on web and other forms of accessibility. For some years now the UK has been a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Rights for Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). That means that we, the UK, have signed up to the various Articles including Article 9 on accessibility that covers accessibility of information. The EU is now moving to the position where countries have to show what we are all doing to make these policies a reality. 

New requirements on web access will soon come out that will force all public body websites to adapt to the rules. By trying to anticipate these laws now, Scotland can stay ahead of the game.  In parallel with developments by the EU similar ones stapes taking shape in the USA with a full revision of their well-known Section 508 that requires organisations to ensure accessibility for disabled people. 


Getting information accessibility right for learners 

What does it mean for you in schools? The Guidelines offer useful descriptions on how to make learning accessible to students. Many schools already do this but the two step approach is helpful as it breaks down steps and gives links to useful tutorials and resources.

 CALL will highlight some of this in future webinars we are planning so if you have questions or want help to try things out, check out our site over the next few weeks.


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Apps for Microsoft Word

By Craig Mill on Tuesday 26th May, 2015 at 2:15pm

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If you have the latest online version of Office 365 (available through Glow) or if you have downloaded the desktop version, Office 2013 (also through Glow in participating authorities) there’s a new feature, ‘Office Store’ that could offer some handy features to support learning, directly from within Word. Combined with ‘My Apps’ you can extend and enhance the tools that are currently available in Word. 

Adding Apps to Word

The Office Store and My Apps is located in Word’s Ribbon; Insert > Store > My Apps. You may need to check that you have access to the Office Web Store (by clicking Store) first of all. You should also be signed in to your Microsoft/Glow account before you can download and install apps from the Office Store.

Office Store is located in Word's Ribbon under the Insert Tab.

However, once you are set up and ready to go, there are hundreds of apps to choose from, including apps to support literacy, numeracy, productivity, referencing, organisation, planning and study skills etc. The Maps for Office and Typing Tutor apps are personal favourites. The illustration below is one example – Texthelp Study Skills which is essentially a colour/text extraction tool. The pupil simply highlights the bits of text they need, then presses the Ctrl + A keys to select the text, and finally clicks ‘Collect Highlights’.

Extracting text in Word using Study Skills app.

Texthelp Study Skills will open in a new window with the extracted text which can then be pasted into another document.

Collected highlights in Study Skills

This example would work particularly well if a pupil has scanned a paper document (using Optical Character Recognition OCR) and wants to extract the main points or key areas of a document, article or book etc. Or alternatively, I’ve used an existing Word document ‘Across the Barricades’ that I downloaded from the Books for All database. 

You can have as many apps open at the same time but the space of your working document will decrease in size as the side window/pane expands with apps. If you do need more than one app open at a time you can click and drag the apps into the document and arrange them as you want them.

Managing Apps in Word

You can browse or manage your apps from within Word: 'My Apps', 'See All' and 'Manage my Apps'.

Manage apps from within Word.

But if you would prefer just to browse through the range of Office Apps you don’t need to be in Word to do so. The following link will take you to the Word App Store: You can also download and install apps for PowerPoint, Excel etc.


Example of rephrase app

I think that over time this is an area which will grow, with apps increasing in number and in quality.

The main benefits of using Word Apps is that you don’t need to leave or click between different programs and Windows, you can do everything from within Word.

One example is Wikipedia which searches for information in the built-in panel. 

Rephrase is another useful app, which helps to rephrase sentences by simply highlighting and choosing an alternative wording. 

If you are unsure about the content or potential benefit of any app each one has an option to find out more about the 'App details', Rate and review' or 'Remove' the app from Word. This can be accessed from the 'Manage My Apps' tool. 

Review and delete apps




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Latest additions to the Books for All Database

By Paul Nisbet on Friday 1st May, 2015 at 4:37pm

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We have uploaded another 96 books kindly contributed by Mary Matson at VTSS in Edinburgh to the Books for All Database. Some are scanned copies and some are Large Print. There are too many to list here, but you can see the full inventory on the news section on the front page of the database. The titles cover:

  • Spanish (6 titles)
  • science (8 titles)
  • RME ( 7 titles)
  • Physics (1 title)
  • Physical Education (2 titles)
  • Music (3 titles)
  • Maths ( 11 titles)
  • Classical studies (1 title)
  • Business (4 titles)
  • Biology (5 titles)
  • English (48 titles).


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New Large Print books from Inverclyde

By Paul Nisbet on Monday 30th March, 2015 at 3:48pm

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Bright Red to provide digital files for Learners with Print Disabilities

By Paul Nisbet on Thursday 19th March, 2015 at 4:02pm

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We are excited to announce that Bright Red Publishing are the latest Scottish textbook publisher to agree to provide digital copies of their books for the Books for All Database. Bright Red publish Study and Revision Guides for Intermediate, National 5 and Highers and also SQA Past Papers. Over the next few weeks we will be adding their books to the database and we'll list the books on the blog and on the Database News pages as they become available.

This is particularly good timing since the 2015 exams are looming ever closer!

Staff and learners should also check out the free Bright Red Digital Zone. This "is a fully interactive online resource where teachers can find useful information and students can put in that extra effort to help them get the best possible grades". The website has been developed in collaboration with Professor Bill Buchanan at Edinburgh Napier University.


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New books on the Books for All Database

By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 18th March, 2015 at 5:08pm

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Rebecca has uploaded some more books from VTSS in Edinburgh to the Books for All Database. Some are scanned copies and some are Large Print. The new books are:




Home Economics 


Modern Studies


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New French books on the Books for All Database from VTSS in Edinburgh

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 3rd March, 2015 at 5:58pm

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Just before Christmas Mary Matson from Edinburgh and Lothians VTSS transcription team kindly gave us over 15,000 files to add to the database.

Rebecca Gow here in CALL, with help from James, a student, have gone through this treasure trove and sorted and edited the files into complete books. Some of the books are beautifully laid out Large Print, whilst others are scanned copies of paper books. The scanned files have been converted into text, but (as you can imagine) we've not had time to proof-read and correct them, so you will find some errors.

Over the next few weeks we will check and upload books for different subjects to the database and post a list of the new titles on the blog and on the Database News page.

The first batch are French books:


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tha e air beagan Gàidhlig?

By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 25th February, 2015 at 3:00pm

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We are pleased to report that we have received funding to work with CereProc to develop and license a Scottish Gaelic computer voice for the Scottish public sector. CereProc are a world-class text-to-speech company based in Edinburgh and the Gaelic voice development is funded by The Scottish Government Gaelic and Scots UnitScottish Funding CouncilScottish Qualifications Authority and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

The new Gaelic voice will be available to schools from The Scottish Voice website for the start of the 2015-16 academic session, alongside  Heather and Stuart, which are high quality computer English voices with a Scottish accent. We first licensed Heather from CereProc in 2008 and she was followed by Stuart, in 2011, and they are now used in computers in schools all across Scotland in a variety of ways by learners with additional support needs. For example:

  • students with reading difficulties use the voices to read digital textbooks, assessments or digital exam papers;
  • learners with visual impairment use the voices to read and access the computer screen;
  • pupils who have difficulties with communication use the voices in their electronic voice output aids for personal communication.

By licensing Heather and Stuart nationally, schools and other public agencies are saved the cost of buying the voices or buying computer reader software with high quality voices. We estimate that we have saved Scottish education at least £2 million compared with the cost of schools or local authorities buying the voices commercially. 

However, there is no Scottish Gaelic computer voice available and so Gaelic learners and speakers do not have the same opportunities as Scottish English speakers. The new Gaelic voice will we hope address this.

The Gaelic computer voice will not just benefit learners with disabilities and additional support needs:  anyone who reads Gaelic could find it helpful to read web sites, documents, or to check and proof-read their own letters or emails. The voice will be licensed for use by Scottish schools, colleges, universities, local and national government agencies, NHS units and for use at home by pupils and staff.



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How accessible are your school computers? Are we meeting legal obligations?

By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 4th February, 2015 at 6:01pm

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On 31 October the Scottish Government published Guidance on “Planning improvements for disabled pupils’ access to education” which "describes the requirements the Act places on education authorities and schools to work to improve the education of disabled learners and to help ensure that they are properly included in, and able to benefit fully from, their school education."

The Guidance contains two appendices that refer specifically to measures that local authorities should take to improve the accessibility of school ICT and computers. It covers things like installing the Scottish computer voices; having text-to-speech software available; providing access to control panels so that students with disabilities can make adjustments to enable access; etc. The document is available here:

Now that the guidance is published, it would be helpful to get a snapshot of how accessible school computers are across the country, and what might need to be done to improve the accessibility of ICT used in schools.

To accomplish this, please help us by completing a survey that you can find here:

We know that in some parts of the country, learners have the benefit of readily-available accessibility software and adjustments, but in other schools the provision is not so good. By completing the survey you will help identify areas where improvements might be made. Please also pass the link on to your colleagues.

Many thanks,



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TeeJay books are available on the Books for All Database again

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 13th January, 2015 at 10:59am

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Following the incident where a TeeJay book was found available on the internet (see the 7 January blog post), we have modified the wording of the Books for All Database records and we hope that it is clearer and encourages staff to read and understand the terms and conditions.

Tom Strang at TeeJay is happy with the wording and so we have made the TeeJay books available once again. We are very grateful to Tom for his understanding and for allowing us to share his publications, free of charge, so that learners with print disabilities can access them.

You can see all the TeeJay books by clicking here

This is the arrangement:

These accessible copies are made available under the terms of the Copyright Licensing Agency Print Disability Licence to be used only by a learner who is visually impaired or otherwise disabled and by reason of such visual impairment or disability is unable to read or access the original printed book.

Under the terms of the licence you must download or obtain an accessible copy for each learner who needs one. All learners must have a print disability.

By downloading this book I confirm that:

  • I am downloading this book for a learner with a print disability.  I will not supply the book to learners who do not have a print disability.  I will not upload the book to the internet for public access.  
  • I understand that I am legally responsible for the file and for its usage.  
  • I agree to the Books for All Database Terms and Conditions.

Books for All Database Licence Conditions for TeeJay Books

  • The user of this Accessible Digital Copy must have legal access to a print copy of the book, bought either for personal use or as part of a class set.
  • The Accessible Digital Copy should be deleted once the pupil has completed the course for which it was supplied.



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Wot? No TeeJay Books?

By Paul Nisbet on Friday 9th January, 2015 at 3:17pm

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You may have found that the TeeJay maths PDFs are not on the Books for All database any more. We have temporarily removed them because just before Christmas one of the files appeared on Wikispaces, freely downloadable, and this is not permitted under the agreement we have with TeeJay.

We are discussing how we can prevent this from happening with TeeJay and once we have a solution we hope to have them available again soon.

This emphasises how important it is to abide by the Books for All terms and conditions and to ensure that the files are only provided for learners with print disabilities. If we collectively don't protect the publishers' rights and property, they won't let us share their files. 

Watch this space - we'll let you know when they are available again.


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New resource - Accessing Books - A Guide for Dyslexic Adults

By Stuart Aitken on Friday 9th January, 2015 at 1:13pm

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A new free resource book on dyslexia is available. Although written mainly for adults who have dyslexia it may be of interest to a more general audience that includes parents of children with dyslexia.

Written anonymously by an adult who has dyslexia it takes a holistic approach to reading. It describes skills, alternative formats (large print sources, audio source, audiobook sources etc.) and dyslexia friendly options,  Also, it considers why an adult might want to engage with books (benefits, strategies), the position regarding copyright and more.

The resource uses a font that is readable with good size and line spacing and sections that are  split into manageable chunks. A 3-page synopsis is included as an Appendix. For those who prefer a more visual approach a spider diagram is also provided to  guide people to the relevant section of interest.  

Additional information provided to us by the author -

‘Accessing Books - A Guide for Dyslexic Adults’ is a free resource which:

  • explores various options that dyslexics can use to succeed with books;
  • provides tips, ideas and information; and
  •  is written by a dyslexic adult

Downloading the guide

The guide is available to download in PDF from one of these three options:   

  2. Download from Google Drive
  3. WordPress blogpost​ - then click on the text at end of post ‘Accessing Books – A Guide for Dyslexic Adults’ 

As some may find an online or digital copy difficult to use you are free to print the downloaded guide or any part of it.

Members of Dyslexia Scotland can borrow a paper copy (including a CD). 

Non-members can consult it at the Dyslexia Scotland Resource Centre.

Dyslexia Scotland Resource Centre
Dyslexia Scotland
2nd floor - East Suite
Wallace House
17 - 21 Maxwell Place
Stirling FK8 1JU
Tel. 01786 44 66 50



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Digital Exams in New Zealand

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 6th January, 2015 at 9:48am

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Back in 2006 Naomi and Ross Forrester from Speaking Solutions in New Zealand visited us to find out about digital exams. Naomi and Ross are experts in speech recognition and digital tools to support learners with disabilities and difficulties. Since then they have been working with Louise Oliphant at Auckland's Sacred Heart College to introduce digital assessments and examinations and Naomi sent me a copy of an article published in the New Zealand Interface magazine, which makes interesting reading.

The school are now using digital exams and assessments for students who would normally require a reader and/or writer and have found that the students achieve similar grades to their mainstream counterparts. They are at the point where they can hold multilevel assessments for more than 30 students in one room with 2 invigilators and this gives an 80% saving to the school in terms of wages, room costs and administration. The article notes that "the results from digital examinations have been astounding" and digital exams are regarded as a "fair and equal way of testing their abilities". The article gives an example of using digital maths papers, where students use text-to-speech to read the questions and handwrite their answers, and points out that this tests "knowledge of mathematics rather than whether a candidate could read the questions."

The article concludes that "Overwhelmingly, the research and experience at Sacred Heart College demonstrates that all students – not just those who have special learning needs – should be extended the opportunity to choose a digital format as an option to complete examinations, thus expressing true subject competency, rather than their ability to read and write.​"

Great to hear about digital assessments and exams having a positive impact on the other side of the world.



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