Interesting Technology from BETT 2014

For those unfamiliar with BETT, it is the largest educational technology exhibition in Europe.  Taking place annually in London, there are over 600 exhibitors including massive companies such as Google, Dell, Intel and Microsoft.  The interesting stuff, from an Additional Support for Learning perspective, is generally on the smaller exhibition stands, though there is plenty from the larger manufacturers which may be suitable for those with Additional Support Needs.

I’ve summarised my highlights below.  For summary of my tweets during the event, including pictures go to:


2014-01-23 17.40.39There were multiple stands showing many different iPad cases, but this one caught my attention. Kensington have a rubbery case called a SafeGrip which surrounds the iPad, but also has a handle.  Great for students who struggle with carrying equipment.

Tech21 make cases from a polymer which adjusts to pressure so should create better resistance to being dropped.  They have a range of cases, but more significantly screen covers which protect against impact to the screen (the most vulnerable part of any tablet).

Intel was showing a ruggedized Windows tablet – The StudyBook- which should stand up to a fair amount of abuse. Significantly the screen was protected.  The person on the stand took great delight in repeatedly dropping a large ball- bearing onto the screen.  See a video here

2014-01-24 14.46.10Rather than rely on a case to supply a handle, Samsung have produced a version of their Tab 3, 7 inch Android tablet for education which has a handle built in.  The disadvantage?  It is bright yellow and blue.


There are currently two pieces of software designed to support emergent eye-gaze users (Eye-FX and Look to Learn).  Inclusive technology were showing previews of their software package – Inclusive Eye Gaze Learning Curve – which comes out later in the year.  The first title focusses on Attention and Looking and provides a progression of engaging activities to assess and develop eye-gaze users.

Audio Notetaker is a great piece of software from Sonocent. They have now released a version for iOS (iPad/Phone etc.).  Called “Recorder” it enables students to record live audio of a lecture and mark the important points as they go along.  The result can later be uploaded to the full version of Audio Notetaker for further revision and linking to PowerPoint slides or images.


2014-01-24 10.44.58

Since production of the Flip video camera ceased I’ve been looking for an alternative which is as easy to use, but not expensive.  TTS have produced one which seems to fit the bill.  It feels a bit plasticy, but is simple to use and has a built in USB plug to transfer the content.  It also has a 4GB SD card and HDMI output.

Beamz is a very unusual and accessible way to play music.  For students who are unable to hold or play  a standard instruments, Beamz provides 4 laser beams which, when broken by a hand or object, will trigger sounds from an attached computer.

Fil McIntyre

Assistive Technologist, The BRITE Initiative

ICT and Inclusion Presentations: Part 2

Today, we’re following on from our previous post on ICT and Inclusion 2013 – which summarised BRITE presentations on tablets and accessibility, and easy video captioning.

Here, BRITE Training Manager Niall Hardie gives an overview of two more presentations from the event: using what you already have as inclusive learning tools, and tips on effective iPad use for students.

It’s likely that these seminars will feature in our online webinar programme this session so keep a lookout for the details published on the BRITE website, and through our eNews (subscribe via the BRITE homepage).

Using What You Already Have

This session focused on using tools that many people commonly have on them already, or that are easily and freely available online.  A key example of that is the ubiquitous Smart Phone.  The way the mobile phone market has developed, it will soon be hard to purchase a phone that is not categorised as a smart phone, and these phones often come with capabilities that can be effectively used to assist study and work.

Smart phones can be used as a digital recorder to capture key points in lectures, or to record an immediate verbal summary of a completed class.  The built-in cameras can be used to capture information on boards, in books, examples of practical work, and so on – they can also be used to video processes and demonstrations.  There are also a wide variety of apps that can be explored – certainly too many to do justice to in a short blog post!

The other options to explore include using Google Drive for free storage and to make use of the range of online software tools for word processing and other activities – available on any internet connected computer, with the added help of Google’s very effective spellchecker.  Finally, other powerful tools to explore are Evernote (for collating notes, research and ideas) and Evernote Clearly – a tool that enables you to read the main text on a webpage without the peripheral visual noise of adverts, banners and links.

Effective iPad Use for Students

This seminar looked at the key tasks that most students need to undertake, and considered how the iPad might make that more effective and more efficient.  Here is a concise list of some ideas – but be aware that there are hundreds of thousands of apps out there, so this is a list of ideas that I know work, but there will be others that can do a similar job.

  • Reading: iBooks; Safari Reader; Instapaper; Kindle – and utilise the built-in voice to speech option
  • Writing: Pages – and consider using an external keyboard and monitor for extended writing
  • Notetaking: Evernote; Notability – and make use of the camera for pictures and video
  • Research: Instant on and access to wifi; dependent on good institutional use of wifi and online resources
  • Mind Mapping: Inspiration; iThoughtsHD
  • Organisation: 2Do; Calendar
  • Communicating/Collaborating: FaceTime; iMessage; email

Do you have a favourite iPad app of particular use to students? Let us know in the comments!

Get live, expert, assistive technology news and advice without leaving your desk!

Want to update your assistive technology knowledge and speak to experienced trainers, but finding that getting time away from work is an issue?

Catch up with the latest assistive technology news and pose questions to the BRITE team at our monthly online drop-in sessions.

These informal sessions take place at lunchtime on the last Friday of the month during term time.

Everyone with an interest is welcome, from beginners to more experienced practitioners. Attendance is free and, as it is online, numbers are unlimited.

For a flavour of what to expect, check out this recording of a previous AT drop-in which looked at phone accessibility, mobile Braille solutions, and news from the world’s largest assistive technology event, CSUN. Other sessions have covered topics as diverse as JAWS screenreading software and tips for getting the most from iPads in an educational setting.

Join us at the next session on Friday 27th April by visiting from 12.15 on the day. During this month’s webinar, we will be discussing:

  • Digital recording
  • Methods of recording
  • Considerations
  • Tips and tricks
  • Latest assistive technology news

Please ensure that you have an internet connection, headset, and a recent version of Flash installed.

This webpage will enable you to check that your computer is ready to access the learning environment.

Drop-in sessions are facilitated by Adobe Connect Pro, the same high-quality platform that we use to deliver the virtual versions of our accredited courses on facilitating inclusive learning strategies, needs assessment practice, and skills for educational support workers. Find out more about our courses on our website.

Seen at BETT – Software

Before I start with interesting software I saw at BETT there is one development I didn’t mention in the hardware post:

Livescribe Sound Stickerssound stickers

Livescribe Smartpens are a great note taking tool; recording audio and linking it to your written notes.  There are some strange and confusing add-ons for the pen (see the Geometric Ruler App instructions for instance) so I was a little skeptical when I saw the Livescribe Sound Stickers.  These sticky dots are recognised by the Livescribe pen in the same way as the paper in the Livescribe notebooks.  You tap a sound sticker with the pen and then record a message.  The next time you tap that dot, the message is played back.

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What’s new in magnification and digital-audio technology?

Lucy from Humanware popped into the BRITE Centre recently to demonstrate some new technology. The popular MyReader automatic reader and magnifier has been updated. MyReader2 incorporates additional features which are very useful to students who have a lot of reading to do, including the ability to store pages. If you already have a MyReader, it’s just a case of having the software upgraded, so get in touch with your local Humanware rep for information about that. If you’re new to the unique functionality of MyReader, check out the BRITE comparative evaluation, Magnification on the Move, for an introduction.

‘Take Note’ – our article about a range of note-taking solutions has recently been updated and expanded to include the latest news about digital voice recorders. This technology can be extremely useful to students who have difficulty taking notes. No sooner had that article been updated, when Lucy showed us another exciting new player and recorder designed specifically for people with a visual impairment, the VictorReader Stream!

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Using a digital recorder with Dragon

The people at Iansyst have put an interesting report up on their website. It’s a personal perspective on getting to grips with using Dragon NaturallySpeaking and an Olympus digital recorder.

In the article, the user describes how she goes about recording her work onto the Olympus digital recorder, creates an audio file on her computer, then has Dragon recognise her speech from that file. The result is that she can record her thoughts anywhere and transcribe them without sitting in front of her computer screen. She edits any mistakes and missed punctuation etc after Dragon has finished transcribing the file.

Click here to read the full article at

This sounds like a really useful way to use two types of technology together effectively. If anyone else is thinking of experimenting with Dragon and digital recordings, do let us know how you get on.

Remember that if your college is a member of the BRITE Equipment Loan Bank and you would like to “try before you buy”, we have laptops available for loan which have Dragon installed (currently version 8 although we’re looking to upgrade to version 9 as soon as possible). We also have some Olympus DM-1 digital recorders in the loan bank.