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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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New books on the Books for All Database

By Paul Nisbet on Friday 26th June, 2015 at 12:55pm

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Rebecca has been continuing her Herculean task of checking, adapting and uploading books (kindly provided by VTSS in Edinburgh) to the Books for All Scotland Database. The latest batch are 83 books for English, including novels such as Charlotte's Web and Ezio Trot, books from reading schemes such as Wellington Square and Oxford Reading Tree, and English textbooks from Collins. Most of the books are Large Print which are particularly suited for pupils with visual impairment or reading difficulties to read on iPads or tablets with smaller screens, because the large font and simplified layout means there is less need to swipe and scroll around the screen.

The screen shot shows a Large Print 24 point version of Charlotte's Web being read out using the free Scottish Heather voice that is now available on ClaroPDF, one of our favourite apps for accessing PDF files on the iPad.  

The new books are listed on the Home page when you go to the Database.  

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Cereproc Heather now available for ClaroPDF

By Craig Mill on Thursday 25th June, 2015 at 3:27pm

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A question we are often asked at CALL is “can you get the Scottish voices on the iPad?”

Unfortunately, the answer has been a resounding ‘No’. While the Scottish voices are available for Android devices via Google Play, i.e. Cereproc Heather and Stuart (including many other voices such as Kirsty Scottish, Jack UK English, Sue Midlands English and Dodo Glasgow) the iPad has lacked a quality Scottish voice.

Saying that the Scottish Fiona and Scottish Rhona voices are available via an In-App purchase (£1.49 each) for the Claro apps, e.g. ClaroSpeak and ClaroPDF

ClaroPDF iconClaroPDF is a fully featured app for reading documents and books, particularly books downloaded from the Books for All database. The app allows you to customise background colours and includes word / sentence highlighting to support visual tracking. 

There are also options to invert colours, Autoscroll and add annotations such as record audio, add images, notes, and a nifty pen tool for writing comments. You can also add video, either from the iPad's camera or from the Library, providing a multimedia dynamic to the app. 

However, a more recent development to ClaroPDF is the addition of a new voice – Cereproc Heather! Listening to Heather read books aloud on the iPad sounds great – and is extremely good quality, all for free!

Heather isn’t currently available in other Claro apps (at least it wasn’t available for ClaroSpeak or ClaroCom at the time of writing) but hopefully Claro will introduce Heather (and hopefully Cereproc Stuart) shortly.  

To install Heather for use on ClaroPDF follow the steps below:

1. If you don’t already have ClaroPDF you will need to download it from the App Store (£2.99): 

2. Open ClaroPDF and tap or select the Cog icon. When the drop-down menu appears select 'Store'.

Settings in ClaroPDF

3. Under Voices tap or select ‘Add-on Voices’. 

Add voices in ClaroPDF

4.Scroll down until you see Heather. 

Heather in ClaroPDF 5. Tap Heather to download the voice. 

6. After the voice has downloaded go back to the Settings / Store icon and select ''Settings'. Finally, under ‘Voice name’ set Heather as the default voice. Remember to set the Speaking rate and there are also other options, i.e. ‘Speak on Tap’ under ‘More’.

Additional Settings

Although there still isn’t a universal Scottish voice that works across the iPad, Scottish Heather for ClaroPDF is one step closer. 

Enjoy!

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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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Calling all parents and staff supporting pupils with additional support needs!

By Gillian McNeill on Monday 1st June, 2015 at 10:16am

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Coming up next week are two ICT and Inclusion exhibitions organised by CALL Scotland and there is still time to book your place.

Parents -  extra sessions - see below!! 

This event provides an excellent opportunity for staff to see and compare the latest software and technology for supporting pupils with additional support needs, with many of the key leading UK companies exhibiting. In addition there will be a series of presentations and workshops from both exhibitors, practitioners working in the field and CALL Scotland specialist staff, with a programme of 26-28 presentations to choose from each day, over 7 sessions.

And what’s more all this is free!

The location and dates for the exhibitions are:

  • CALL Scotland, Edinburgh - Wednesday 10 June 2015
  • Beardmore  Hotel, Clydebank - Thursday 11 June 2015

Registration/coffee for both events is from 8.45am, closing times - Edinburgh 5.30pm and Clydebank 4.00pm.

Please register for your selected exhibition in advance so we have an idea of numbers before the day and to indicate if you wish to stay for a (free!) 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.

And for parents in particular…..

This year we are running extra drop-in sessions for parents of children with additional support needs at our Edinburgh event!

Parents can attend these themed drop-in sessions hosted by CALL Scotland specialist staff. This will provide an opportunity for parents to view and discuss ICT resources and strategies for supporting children with a range of additional supports needs such as language, learning, communication and access. There will be no presentation at these sessions as such, but an opportunity to view selected technology and learn how it can be used to support children in school and/or home.

As well as these sessions parents can come along earlier in the afternoon from 2pm onwards, to see the ICT and Inclusion exhibition and to chat with the exhibitors.

The location, date and time for the parents’ drop-in is:

  • CALL Scotland, Edinburgh - Wednesday 10 June 2015, 4.30-5.30 pm

The drop-in sessions will cover:

  • Primary level access to the curriculum, including literacy & dyslexia
  • Secondary level access to the curriculum, including speech recognition
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) single message technology to higher level devices
  • Technology to support pupils with severe and complex learning difficulties

There is no need for parents to book for drop-in events, just turn up in time for your selected session or come along to the exhibition anytime from 2pm onwards. To find out more go to the ICT and Inclusion web page or telephone CALL Scotland on 0131 651 6235.

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1.5m Access to Education Fund now open for schools

By Paul Nisbet on Wednesday 27th May, 2015 at 12:51pm

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£1.5m is now available for schools and clusters to help reduce barriers to learning for learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. This includes learners with additional support needs. 

The fund aims to help enhance a school's capacity to:

  • address barriers to learning caused by difficulties in accessing appropriate school resources, equipment, IT, or clothing;
  • provide learning experiences, outdoor learning or other activities which will boost learning and are an integral part of the school curriculum;
  • offer coaching and mentoring programmes for disadvantaged students to support them to become fully engaged in school and community life;
  • deliver parental engagement programmes to support parents to support their children;
  • engage with the wider community; and
  • develop or deliver innovative learning experiences which will raise educational attainment, promote attendance and encourage positive engagement.

I don't know exactly what type of projects get funded, by my eye was drawn to the mention of IT, so perhaps funding would be available to invest in laptops, tablets or software for a support for learning department? Some schools say they have very limited stocks of devices for students with ASN and so this may be one way to supplement your resources. Or how about developing a programme of coaching for learners to teach ICT skills "to support them to become fully engaged in school and community life" - you might have after-school sessions to develop basic ICT skills, or teach students how to use particular software or apps for accessing the curriculum.

To find out more, get the application forms, and see an example application from last year, visit the Access to Education Fund pages on the Education Scotland web site.

Last year there was considerable variation in the amount of funding awarded to schools in different local authorities: from Glasgow, where schools received £173,568, to Argyll & Bute, where schools received only £2,000. Don't miss out this year! Get your applications in before the deadline on 19th June! 

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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:http://bit.ly/wordapps 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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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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Onwards!

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 Paul.Nisbet@ed.ac.uk by Thursday April 30th. We will get back to you after this date to discuss next steps. 

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