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Superkeys Assistive Keyboard app

By Allan Wilson on Thursday 16th October, 2014 at 5:44pm

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Crick Software have just released an interesting new keyboard app for the iPad, taking advantage of the new iOS 8 feature that allows different keyboards to be used across a range of different apps. Superkeys Assistive Keyboard divides the keyboard up into a series of 'chunks' of keys.

The Superkeys Keyboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first time you tap on one of these 'chunks' it is enlarged, making it easier to select the key you want with a second tap. Obviously, having to tap twice to select a letter will slow you down, but this could be a very useful tool for a person with poor motor control, or low vision, who finds it hard to reliably tap on the key they want. It could be very useful for an iPhone!

'Chunk of keyboard' enlarged by Superkeys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The keyboard also has a Shortcuts key, allowing access to a few commonly used phrases, which can be edited and added to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately, it is not currently set up or switch users. Someone scanning with the keyboard will still be offered 'Q to Y' as their first option, rather than the letters in the first 'chunk', i.e. 'Q to E' and A to D'.

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TeeJay CfE Books 1a and 1b now available with answer boxes

By Paul Nisbet on Friday 10th October, 2014 at 1:14pm

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Tom Strang at TeeJay Publishers has kindly provided digital versions of the new Curriculum for Excellence books for the Books for All Database, so that learners with print disabilities can read and access them. 

Sarah and Rebecca here in CALL have been working hard to insert answer boxes and adapt the books so that learners can tackle the exercises on screen, and we've just uploaded new versions of Books 1a and 1b to the Books for All Database.

The books are 'PDF Portfolios' so when you open a book with Adobe Reader on your computer you will see thumbnails of each chapter: double-click on a chapter to view the preview and then double click again to open it.

(You'll need Adobe Flash installed to view the Portfolio properly, and from our trials it seems that most school computers do have this.)

 

 

Or, you can extract the chapter as a separate file and save it on your computer. We recommend extracting the chapters and accessing them separately because the PDF Portfolio can take a while to open and the extracted individual files seem to open much faster. 

 

Most of the pages have answer boxes inserted so that you can type your answers on-screen.

To jump to the next answer box press the Tab key on the keyboard: to go back to the previous box, press Shift-Tab.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the pages did not have enough room to insert the answers boxes, and so Sarah and Rebecca added extra pages to give more space to lay out the answer boxes. You'll find that many of the exercises with arithmetic working take this form.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exercises that involve drawing can be done on the computer using the Adobe Reader Drawing Markups. (Click Comment at the right hand side of the toolbar to see the Annotations and Drawing Markup tools).

This tiling exercise has been done using the Polygon tool. I set the colours of the polygon by right-clicking on the Polygon tool in the Drawing Markups and setting the Tool Default Properties. In this exercise, I drew the tiles in different orientations then used CTRL-C and CTRL-V to copy and paste multiple tiles. 

You can download a quick guide on using the various Adobe Reader XI drawing and commenting tools

 

On an iPad, tap to download the book and then Open it in the free Adobe Reader app

 

 

 

 

You'll then see each chapter listed: tap to open the chapter in Adobe Reader.

 

 

 

 

However, you can't type in answers and so we recommend tapping again and opening the chapter in an app that allows you to type in answers to form fields such as PDF Expert.

 

 

 

 

PDF Expert lets you type in answers, draw shapes and annotate the text, and it also has text to speech so you can read the questions.

(We used to suggest ClaroPDF for accessing PDFs with answer boxes/form fields but at time of writing it has a bug which means that when you type an answer into a box, your answer often gets copied to other answer boxes on the same page! Claro are working on a fix for this, but it's not there yet.)

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Symbols and Reading

By Sally Millar on Friday 10th October, 2014 at 11:07am

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Great -  a clear statement and short / simple explanation from AAC guru Carol Zangari about when to use and when not to use symbols in literacy tasks. To support comprehension and communication around the meaning of a text - use 'em to the full, they will help the learner to engage, participate and become confident.  But to support teaching and learning of actual reading - don't confuse / dilute the learner's relationship with the text itself - don't add symbols.

 

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myGaze-new affordable eye tracker!

By Joanna Courtney on Thursday 9th October, 2014 at 10:31am

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I've been trying out the new MyGaze eye tracker from Inclusive Technology.

Looks like it's going to be a very useful and affordable tool for therapy departments, schools and individual pupils, with the basic package of the eye tracker and EyeMouse Play software coming in at £875.

Of course, you then need to decide which software to purchase, depending on your client(s) and buy additional equipment to use it on e.g. monitor (attached to your laptop), mounting plate, table/floor stand. But you're still looking at under £2000.

 

Trying it for the first time, I really like the easy calibration and setup and the 'goggles' and visual prompt of red, amber, green within the positioning guide, so you know easily how to improve positioning.

I've found that even a 1 point calibration enables me to access single left click 'Switch IT' type activities, Target and Touch, Choose IT Maker activities through to grid-based communication software. This is done by mouse emulation only. I've also found that using my own 1 point calibration with a variety of software is more accurate than using someone else's 9 point calibration.

I also like how you can set up keyboard shortcuts to features such as increase/decrease dwell time, pause eye gaze, and positioning guide (track status) so that these can be adjusted and fine-tuned without going in and out of the software you're using!

On first impressions, very user friendly and accurate. Looking forward to trying it out with some clients now-watch this space! 

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Now Hear Me campaign

By Sally Millar on Tuesday 7th October, 2014 at 7:02pm

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NHS Education for Scotland's Now Hear Me campaign goes public, with an article about AAC in the Herald Scotland today.  

Giving a voice to those who are unable to speak​: People who use equipment to help them speak are backing a push for greater acceptance of the way they communicate.

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Getting into the Books for All Database from Glow

By Allan Wilson on Tuesday 7th October, 2014 at 4:51pm

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Some people have been having a problem with logging into the Books for All Scotland Database from the Books for All web site since the launch of the new version of Glow. They are getting an error message, "The username or password you entered was incorrect." Please check and try again. The solution, for the moment, is to log in to Glow BEFORE you go to the Books for All web site. You can do this by going to portal.glowscotland.org.uk and logging on with your Glow username and password, or just Google "Glow login"

If you do log in through Glow, you'll find that there is a 'Tile' for the Books for All site in the bottom right hand corner of the Shared Launch Pad, which makes it much easier to find the Books for All database.

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Use your iPad to type into a paper worksheet!

By Sally Millar on Thursday 2nd October, 2014 at 7:37pm

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Now - here's an App to cheer your day. SnapType App 

It's FREE. It lets a pupil type directly into a work sheet.

Here's how it goes - 

  • Take a photo with the iPad of the paper worksheet other kids are completing by hand.
  • Tap the screen, a yellow box appears.  Tap the box, the keyboard appears. Type. 
  • If necessary, drag and drop the text box to better position it against the backdrop of the worksheet.
  • Adjust the text size slightly.
  • Take a screen shot to store a copy of the work and then print it out and/or share it with teacher. 

It's not perfect, in fact it's quite limited. Unless I'm missing something, it only works in portrait. But it's very simple to use, unlike some other options, and I know quite a few frustrated kids who struggle with handwriting, who will LOVE this!

Read the story by developer graduate student Amberlynn Gifford

See review 

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Something about sums

By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 1st October, 2014 at 5:51pm

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One common challenge facing many learners with additional support needs is that of writing down mathematical and arithmetic working. This can be a real difficulty for learners with handwriting problems, dyspraxia, low muscle tone, dyslexia and dyspraxia, and learners on the autistic spectrum. So the question is - how can a learner use a computer, iPad or other device to easily and quickly type out arithmetic?

We've experimented with different techniques and one that seems to work well is to set up tables in Microsoft Word. 

These are pretty simple to use: type each digit into a separate table cell and hit the arrow keys on the keyboard to move from cell to cell, or click with the mouse on the cell.

The carry or borrow rows are set to be a smaller font and shown in red so that they stand out.

To strike out a number when subtracting, select the digit and then click the ‘strikethrough’ button on the Home ribbon. 

I've created a set of 14 different Word templates for addition, subtraction and multiplication, for starters. You can download a zip file with the templates, plus a 'How to Use' guide, from the Books for All web site. If you unzip the files to a folder on your computer and then open the How to Use guide you will see thumbnails of what each template looks like, plus a link to open the template directly.

I'd welcome any feedback, comments or suggestions for improvements on these files. I've also created some PDF versions that aren't quite finished, and I'll make some OneNote templates in a similar format.

Here's how a few of them look:

Maths Grid 2

 

Multiplication TU

 

Division 1 digit 

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October is AAC Awareness month

By Sally Millar on Wednesday 1st October, 2014 at 10:52am

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Are you aware of AAC?  So what is AAC?

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

If you would like to know more about supporting children and adults that cannot speak well enough to make themselves understood - or you would like your colleagues or students to - why not try CALL's new Online Learning Modules (commissioned by NES as part of Scotland's Right to Speak initiative).

For daily ideas, hints and tips for SLTS, teachers, AAC professionals, try Carole Zangari's inspiring site PrAACtical AAC

For an insightful and also practically useful day by day, blow by blow account of life as an AAC family, try the fantastic Nieder family blog and their FB page 'Uncommon Sense Blog'.

 

 

 

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Activity Choice boards for Keep Talking Book

By Joanna Courtney on Wednesday 24th September, 2014 at 5:09pm

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As well as now being able to download individual activities from CALL's Keep Talking book, there are now 'communication game choice boards' available to download for each section. These are made up from the symbols assigned to each activity within the book and can be found underneath the downloadable activities for each section.

The symbol boards can be used to enable AAC users to choose the game they want to play or select their favourite game either individually or as part of a 'communication group.'

You could also laminate them, cut up the symbols, stick some velcro on the back and put them up on the classroom wall as part of a 'communication group' display. Or use them to do a 'Talking Mat' about which games they like or don't like or find easy or hard.

Or, pop the cut up symbols into a hat to make a 'lucky dip' game selection!

So, have fun and Keep Talking!

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New TeeJay Maths books in action!

By Joanna Courtney on Wednesday 24th September, 2014 at 12:40pm

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I was in a school yesterday assessing a pupil. He is working on book 1A from the TeeJay Maths scheme. His hand writing is poor and liable to get worse with time and as the amount of writing he has to tackle increases throughout Secondary.

I showed his teacher the Books For All database and she logged in with her Glow Username and password (impressively, she knew this off the top of her head!)

We searched for TeeJay book 1A and it appeared, ready for download, along with several more of the TeeJay titles.

Within minutes, he was typing his answers into the text boxes independently and with ease and said to me at the end of the session 'I like it.' He went off to his next class happy and confident.

By the end of the day, there were several requests by other teachers for digital TeeJay titles to use with their print disabled pupils.

A great example of Books for All at its best and of real life 'Active Maths!'

A good day.

 

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Keep Talking Activities-On the Go!

By Joanna Courtney on Wednesday 24th September, 2014 at 10:34am

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In a recent blog post, Gillian mentioned using PCS within the GoTalk Now app to create two communication activities 'Scavenger Hunt' and 'I went to the shops and I bought.'

These and many more communication games can be found in CALL's 'Keep Talking' Book, available for FREE download from our website.

You can now also download selected activities, rather than the whole book. This is handy for quick printing of the resources or for teachers and SLTs to download and store their favourite activities in the iBooks app on their iPad to use on the go!

Why not have a look and try some out for yourself? We hope that these examples will spark off lots more game ideas from you creative folk out there!

I'd suggest starting with the The 'Five minute standby' section. These games are great for filling in that 5 minutes before the bell with meaningful use of AAC devices and a good way to introduce AAC use into the classroom.

We hope these games will be useful for lots of children in school, not just the AAC users out there...  

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SoundingBoard webinar

By Joanna Courtney on Thursday 18th September, 2014 at 5:13pm

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If you'd like to know more about the great FREE communication app SoundingBoard and how it can be used with pupils who have communication support needs, why not have a look at our recent webinar?

It covers simple editing, using digital images on buttons, sharing resources and switch access for those with physical difficulties.

Also make sure you download this FREE app onto your iPad so that you can use our app board symbolised resources which accompany the Scottish Children's Book Awards Bookbug category of shortlisted books!

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PCS Symbols available for GoTalk Now App for iPad!

By Gillian McNeill on Thursday 18th September, 2014 at 4:59pm

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Until now there have been few, if any options for those looking for a symbol-based communication app for iPad that uses PCS Symbols – Picture Communication Symbols. It has been a while coming, during which we have made much use of SymbolStix and Widgit symbols in particular, but yes PCS is now available for GoTalk Now.

So far, there’s not too much information either on the Attainment Company website or iTunes App store, but here’s information about the symbols available from within the GoTalk Now app, where they are available as an in-app purchase…

Symbols are

  • available in English (UK) Keywords for £39.99
  • additional languages can be purchased for 50% of the price (£20.99)
  • PCS Classic Style (as opposed to ThinLine or Persona)  
  • over 11,500 symbols, including Core and Classic 2000-2012 Addendums

So we went ahead at CALL Scotland with our purchase today, so that we could try the symbols out and now they are showing as available alongside the other image/symbol libraries within GoTalk Now. We like using the GoTalk Now app here, given the range of available options, including traditional grid with and without message bar, visual scene display/photo story options, touch and in-built scanning, integrated music and video playing, core vocabulary pop-up and keyboard layout. But we like it even more now with the new PCS Symbols option!

Here's a couple of screen shots of the pages I made earlier, one for a scavenger hunt activity and the other for a "I went to the shops and bought.." game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Couple of things to note (hopefully they will be addressed by the developer in due course)…

  • there’s no browse/search by category and sub-category option (which is available for the other symbol libraries) eg: animals – birds, animals – fish, etc. Its keyword search only, I’m afraid.
  • I had an issue with selecting a few of my chosen symbols to insert into a button, they just wouldn’t go in, although sometimes they did after multiple tries! Maybe just something particular to my iPad, I’m not sure. (I’m using an iPad 2 with IOS7).

Anyway now that they are here, get set, ready and go with PCS symbols!

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More Hodder Gibson textbooks available from the Books for All Scotland Database

By Paul Nisbet on Friday 12th September, 2014 at 12:52pm

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