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A brief history of accessible PDFs

By Stuart Aitken on Monday 25th May, 2015 at 2:37pm

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Premiere this week in Riga Latvia – but you saw it first (blink and you will miss it!)

CALL had a bit of fun putting together a 1 minute video with closed captions:

Plus accompanying transcript (Word transcript (.doc) and text transcript (.txt)), on using and making accessible PDF documents. This week we share the video with European Union colleagues in Latvia as part of Scotland’s input to the European Agency for Special Needs and Inclusive Education (the Agency).

The whistle stop tour is on making and using an accessible PDF document – a maths book with ‘answer boxes’. This accessible format has proved tremendously popular with learners with a physical disability, visual impairment, autism and other support need. You can access the closed caption video on making and using a PDF. A transcript is provided for users who prefer a TXT version, and in MS Word and PDF formats.

The Riga event is the third and final session on driving forward the availability and use of accessible information in learning. CALL's Books for All website, the Books for All Scotland Database, Seeing Ear's catalogue and RNIB's Load2Learn are all ways of bringing accessible information (books) used in schools by disabled learners right into the classroom.

Riga participants will focus on implementation – making it happen not just in classrooms across Scotland but across lifelong learning, and not just in Scotland but across the European union. No small feat indeed. Happily, Scotland is in a strong position to showcase that in this country we actually already implement accessible information. The list of Scotland’s achievements in this area is a credit to everyone involved –to the many pupils, teachers and local authorities involved in some way or another, to SQA and digital question papers, ICTSLS, SAVIE members, Education Scotland (who together with Enquire are also representing Scotland in Riga. Not least, the enduring contribution of Scottish Government to this area has helped to ensure that accessible information for disabled pupils and those with additional support needs continues high on the agenda. Through these partnerships CALL will point participants to:

Each participant was invited to share a 1minute video of some aspect of accessible information for learning. Many CALL Scotland colleagues in classrooms across Scotland will recognise features of the video – SETT framework for assessment, bespoke tailoring of equipment for individual pupils, using inbuilt operating system features plus of course users of Digital Question Papers. Many primary schools teachers will recognised SHM books with answers boxes to allow easy moving between questions.

Please do give us some feedback. Bear in mind too that you can use the Pause / Resume button if it all proves a bit too fast!


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Proloquo2Go version 4.0 out now-with new Crescendo vocabularies!

By Joanna Courtney on Thursday 14th May, 2015 at 2:36pm

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Proloquo2Go (P2Go) version 4.0 has been released and it looks like many improvements have been made.

There is no additional charge to update if you are an existing P2Go user and if you are a new user it will cost you £199.99 (previously £129.99).

Why should I update my app to version 4.0?

  • There is enhanced grammar support within your existing user's vocabulary
  • You can create new users from the Crescendo Vocabularies (3 different levels- Basic Communication, Intermediate Core and Advanced Core). Intermediate Core looks like it will be a popular choice as it has core vocabulary which remains the same on each page, activity templates (with core vocab already programmed and ready to personalise) and makes creating novel language a lot easier and more fluent. Advanced Core has fringe vocabulary organised into more sub-folders.
  • You can move an existing P2Go 3 user to the new Crescendo vocabularies relatively easily. You are now able to copy and paste whole folders from one user to another, so you can copy your personalised folders e.g. people, food, places, help me, school, news or any new folders you have made and paste them into your new Crescendo user.


Also remember to download the Scottish voice 'Rhona,' if you are a Scottish user!



What should I do before I update to version 4.0?

Assistiveware recommend you Backup your users before updating to version 4.0 (just in case!) and that you need to have iOS 8.2 in order to do the update. This means that some of the older iPads won't be able to do the update. If you have an iPad 2 or later you should be fine though.

See Assistiveware's website for more information on updating to the new version as well as a useful video on how you can move an existing user to the new version.

Looking forward to trying it out-watch this space!






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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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By Sally Millar on Wednesday 29th April, 2015 at 1:58pm

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Astonishingly, tomorrow is officially my last day as a member of the CALL Scotland team, as retirement whisks me away to a new stage of life.  

How can 30 + years have passed so quickly?  Well, I suppose  - because every day is different and I've been enjoying it all so much! And most of all because I've been lucky enough to have the privilege and pleasure of working with such fabulous people - my wonderful CALL colleagues and so many other colleagues from the wider Scottish  - and UK and international  - network of AAC and of ICT for ASfL, and school staff and therapists. And of course, all the children and young people and their parents.

I was given a FANTASTIC party last Friday by the CALL team (who, it turns out, organize brilliant parties just as well as they do brilliant conferences, exhibitions and Family Days!), with such kind words and lovely gifts from so many people - overwhelming! So I'd just like to say a huge THANK YOU to all who contributed ....and, well.....goodbye, and all the best to you! (though - just in case you think you're seeing things - I may be seen occasionally on short forays back into the fray for some particular pieces of CALL related work, and can still be contacted through CALL via the usual email address).  


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New Clicker Communication App coming soon!

By Sally Millar on Wednesday 29th April, 2015 at 11:00am

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We've just had a sneak preview of the new Clicker Communication App for iPad that will be available soon, designed primarily for children and young people. It is perhaps not revolutionarily innovative in AAC terms, but it nicely integrates all the usual features of a basic AAC system with the well known design flair and robustness of Clicker, and the 'easy to use' features of Clicker Apps.  It comes with SymbolStix but you can add PCS and  or Widgit symbols as as an additional in-App purchase.

Some special treats -

(1) Symbol supported prediction is an option

(2) Crick's SuperKeys keyboard is built in as an option  - and it works not only on the qwerty keyboard but also on grids of symbols!

(3) It comes with three 'starter' communication vocabularies, organised in the 'Fitzgerald Key' layout and colour code. 






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Best wishes for the SQA 2015 Exams

By Paul Nisbet on Tuesday 28th April, 2015 at 10:29am

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Best wishes to all learners, parents/carers, teachers, assistants and SQA staff for the 2015 SQA exams which start today! The timetables starts with Drama this morning, Economics this afternoon, and runs until Friday June 5, finishing with High Early Education and Childcare. According to the SQA web site, over half a million exams will be sat during the six-week exam period.

Looking for last-minute advice and inspiration? Try:

If you have any technical questions or queries about using SQA digital exams please remember to visit our web site, or get in touch by phone or email. 

Good luck!


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Talking in Exams Project

By Paul Nisbet on Friday 17th April, 2015 at 1:11pm

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Speech recognition has been around for many years, and many people have tried it without much success. It could be made to work, but often involved a lot of training, time and effort. Today though, computers are much more powerful, speech recognition software is much more accurate and reliable, and we believe it is now a viable option for many more learners.

There has been a lot of interest in speech recognition recently in Scotland, partly because the technology is now more common and better, and partly because of the introduction of the National Literacy assessment, where scribes cannot be used for assessment of writing, but technology, including speech recognition, can.

On 15th January 2015 we held a seminar, supported by SQA, where we discussed the use of speech recognition software in assessments and examinations. You can view a recording of the seminar on CALL's web site: scroll down to 'Speech Recognition in Practice'.

We heard very positive reports about speech recognition from practitioners in East Lothian, Scottish Borders and Stirling, and the participants on the day were keen to continue the conversation and try out speech recognition. So, we thought - how can CALL help?

The Talking in Exams Project is our response, and this is the plan:

Create guidance materials for getting started with speech recognition.

We are creating web pages on the CALL site, with general information covering the SR software and links to tutorials, videos and research. The web pages initially cover Dragon Naturally Speaking, Windows Speech Recognition, WordQ+SpeakQ and Siri on the iPad, but later we will add more for MacOS Dictation, Android and Google Chrome tools. 

Build a community of practice where we can share what works and what doesn’t.

We will organise some more free sessions where we can get together and share experiences. We will set up online collaboration via CALL's web site, and/or via a Glow blog / wiki / Learning Space for project partners to talk and share. We anticipate running these sessions during this term so that work with students can start before the end of term. 

Provide (a limited number of) Dragon and SpeakQ+WordQ licences to schools.

Schools who take part in the project can use the free speech recognition tools built into Windows, MacOS and on tablets, but we also want to include Dragon NaturallySpeaking and WordQ+SpeakQ in the project, so we have a small number of licences for both programs that we can provide free to schools. We anticipate having more schools involved than we have licences and so we will probably choose who gets the software by drawing lots. 

Schools can use one or more of the above, e.g. Dragon NaturallySpeaking on one machine, Windows SR on another, and/or Siri.

Support schools to trial speech recognition software

As well as the web pages, we will organise (free) sessions to introduce the speech recognition tools. We’ll have these on a few dates across the country.

We will suggest a procedure for staff to follow to teach students and record results, possibly based on  Speech Recognition as AT for Writing, by Daniel Cochrane and Kelly Key, or the Speech Recognition Trial Protocol, by Cindy Cavanagh.

Gather and publish case studies / reports.

We hope that participating schools will share case studies or reports on their experiences and we intend to provide an outline format for schools to use to collect information about learners as they learn to use SR. The main question is whether SR is viable for implementation at the end of the trial.


If you are interested in taking part, register an interest by emailing by Thursday April 30th. We will get back to you after this date to discuss next steps. 


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CALL Course - Using Symbols in Schools

By Gillian McNeill on Wednesday 1st April, 2015 at 4:22pm

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Don't miss out on our next professional learning opportunity to increase your skills and knowledge in -

'Using Symbols in School: Supporting Language, Learning and Communication'

It's on Thursday 30th April from 9.30am to 3.30pm at CALL Scotland.

The course will be of benefit to Support for Learning and ASN staff in all sectors of Education and to Speech and Language Therapists working with pupils with a range of support needs, including those with complex communication support needs.

You'll find out the why,what and how on symbols as visual supports for learning, including hands on time on PC and iPad.

Further information is available on our professional learning page.

Booking is required by Wednesday 22nd April, so best get on your marks, set and go!


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Work at CALL!

By Paul Nisbet on Monday 30th March, 2015 at 4:15pm

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Development Officer - Assistive Technology & Additional Support Needs

As a result of recent and upcoming staff changes, we are looking for a person to come and join the CALL team. This post is full-time and fixed-term until 31st March 2017 - although we hope and expect that funding will continue beyond this date. Secondment is also a possibility. If you would like to discuss the post informally please call Paul on 0131 651 6235 or email

The post details are on TES jobs.

"You will be a qualified teacher with extensive experience working with children and young people with disabilities and/or additional support needs. You will have expertise with specialist assistive technologies.

This post includes elements of research, capacity building, and knowledge exchange in addition to direct work with learners in schools. The post is diverse, exciting and challenging: it involves providing assistive technology assessment and support for learners with additional support needs in schools; developing and delivering Continuing Professional Learning; resource development; and the opportunity to develop projects and developments with schools, local authorities and national agencies. The post is an exciting opportunity to work in a rapidly changing field and to promote and develop good practice in assistive technology, both in Scotland and internationally. The post involves working across Scotland and you will have a car licence and access to a car.

CALL is based in the Moray House School of Education and is funded primarily by the Scottish Government to lead and support the use of assistive and communication technologies by learners with disabilities and/or Additional Support needs."


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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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What the Ladybird Heard-Spring has Sprung for Accessible Books!

By Joanna Courtney on Tuesday 24th March, 2015 at 1:13pm

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Now that Springtime seems to be upon us at last, you'll be looking for some suitably 'fresh and lively' reading material for your Young Readers!


Just to remind you that CALL's PowerPoint bookshelf is available for download with links to lots of ready made PowerPoint switch prompt books for you to use with pupils who have a Print Disability


Why not start by downloading 'What the Ladybird Heard,' a fabulous story by Julia Donaldson about a ladybird who spoils the plans of two thieves trying to steal the prize cow from the farmyard!





Download CALL's symbolised 'Shared Reading' resources to accompany the book and enable children with Communication Support Needs to take part fully in the fun. The resources include a printable symbol board (or Go Talk 9+ overlay), Step by Step and Big Mack switch tops and a Vocabulary Sheet with ideas of what vocabulary to use. The Shared Reading set of resources appear near the bottom of the page.






There are also some great teaching ideas and resources to go with this story on the Teaching Ideas website as well as from the Scottish Book Trust's website.


Please also remember that CALL's symbolised resources to accompany ALL the short-listed Bookbug books from this year's Scottish Children's Book Awards, including the 2015 winner Robot Rumpus by Ross Collins and Sean Taylor, can still be downloaded from our website until the end of March.

So download the resources now before time runs out!





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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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EmergencySMS service to call 999 - great for nonspeakers!

By Sally Millar on Monday 16th March, 2015 at 10:19am

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Police Scotland are offering a new Emergency SMS service which could be very valuable for people with speech, language or communication impairment, or deafness (who cannot easily use a voice based phone service).

If someone can access a mobile phone reliably, they can send an SMS text message to the UK 999 service to call for help. The emergency services will be able to reply and pass your message to the police, ambulance, fire rescue, or coastguard as required.

You will need to register your mobile phone before using the emergencySMS service. Do it now - don't wait until an emergency happens! Click to Register your phone ​

Click to download the emergencySMS leaflet.



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Friday Games for switch and touch users

By Sally Millar on Friday 13th March, 2015 at 1:01pm

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You will find some fun online games (free!) for early level learners using switch or touch, or mouse click, on Ian Bean's SENICT Software website.  Lots of other great resources, links, and information etc. there too.


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