You are in:

A Guide to Single & Multi-Message Devices

image of poster

Poster details and download button


  • Published: 2017
  • Revision: 1.0
  • Format: A3
  • File type: pdf
  • File size: 1Mb


An accessible breakdown of this PDF poster is available further down the page.

We have created a poster to help schools understand the key features of single and multi-message devices, including the newer 'gameplay' and randomisation features which are now available on some devices. There are also tips, hints and information to help schools make the most of the single and multi-message devices they may already have. Not every available device is listed on the poster, but we have included the most popular which you are likely to find in schools. This is available as an A3 poster, and also as a PDF with clickable links that take you to sources of information on the internet.

An accessible breakdown of this PDF poster is available further down the page.

Contents of the PDF poster

This is an accessible breakdown of the contents of the PDF poster, designed to be accessible with a screen reader, and also for people who find it hard to see or access the links in the poster.

Single Message Devices

Single message devices can be used as communication aids, or to make classroom displays more accessible.

Perhaps the most common are LITTLEmacks and BIGmacks, which offer up to 2 minutes of recording time and are sturdy enough to withstand daily classroom use!

Multi-message Devices

Multi-message devices, often known as Stepby-Steps, can record sequential messages. So, rather than a single message, you can record a series of messages or sounds which are re-played in the order they are recorded.

If you record one message they can be used as single message devices, so it is often worth paying a little more for a multi-message device to give you the flexibility to use both.

Handy Tips

If you have LITTLE or BIGmacks check on the left hand side for a levels button. This sliding button allows you to move between levels.

You can record 3 sets of messages (1 set per level) which is a useful tool if you only have 1 device and want to use different messages in a short space of time.

How do I use them Effectively in the Classroom?

Single and multi-message devices are fantastic tools to teach skills in social interaction and communication across the curriculum.

CALL Scotland has created a poster and accompanying booklet 20 Ways to be Excellent to give you practical ideas and help you plan motivating and challenging learning experiences, all linked to Curriculum for Excellence. You can download the poster and booklets for free.

Step By Step Levels with Gameplay/Step-by-Step Choice with Levels

Step-by-Steps with Gameplay offer 3 different levels of functionality to a step-by-step.

  • Level 1 - randomizes the message selections, so any of the words or phrases you pre-recorded will speak.
  • Level 2 - randomizes the message selection in the same way as Level 1, but then eliminates the message once it has been selected and beeps once all the message have been played.
  • Level 3 - allows you to skip through messages by pressing quickly. So, to get to the third message recorded, press 3 times, 4 times to get to the fourth, etc. This feature is also available by itself on a Step-by-Step Choice with levels.

See CALL Scotland’s 20 Ways to Be Excellent poster and booklet for ideas to use the Step-by-Step Levels with Gameplay in the classroom.

Don’t Forget!

Always ensure your devices are labelled with a symbol or photograph to help your learner understand the meaning of the recorded messages. LITTLE and BIGmacks now come with different coloured switch tops which screw on and off. You can use the spare coloured tops to make tactile labels which are best attached using a hot glue gun.

Use the clear plastic snap switch caps to hold labels on your device. Beware that if you laminate your labels, they may make the snap switch cap pop off more easily.

Game play Little and Big Step-By-Steps

  • Level 1: Randomization.
  • Level 2: Random Elimination.
  • Level 3: Choice.

‘Gameplay’ multimessage devices have 3 additional levels of functionality.