Seminar review: Make It Accessible

BRITE recently joined JISC to facilitate two seminars which  focussed on creating accessible formats.

A number of further and higher education institutions were represented, with staff from both marketing and learning support backgrounds in attendance. Employees from schools and City of Edinburgh Libraries also featured in the groups, demonstrating how vital it is to be able to provide accessible information in a range of environments.

Make It Accessible introduced essential tips to make printed information accessible to readers with visual impairments or dyslexia.

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Widgit Training Day “Creating Accessible Information” at CALL in March

If you missed out on our popular (over-subscribed!) January seminar which looked at creating inclusive learning resources to use with students who have complex needs, why not take up this opportunity to catch up with one of the presenters from that day?

Martin Fisher from Widgit will be leading a full training day at CALL Scotland on 3rd March 2010. As well as featuring inspiring case studies, the day will focus on using Communicate in Print, a symbol-supported desk top publisher, and Symwriter which can be used to create highly-visual interactive tasks.

Click here for full details of the Widgit Training Day at CALL, including information about how to book a place. This FREE event would also be useful to people who did attend the BRITE seminar, but who would like to spend more time on the software featured.

NEW visual study guide: ‘Great Ways to Learn Anatomy and Physiology’ by Charmaine McKissock

Palgrave study GuideMany BRITE Links will remember Charmaine McKissock, who worked with BRITE as a trainer and mentor a few years ago, and who wrote the ever-popular BRITE Online Guide to Dyslexia.

A practitioner with a wealth of knowledge and experience in supporting students with dyslexia, Charmine has now used her skills to create a highly visual and down-to-earth study guide aimed at students studying basic anatomy and physiology for courses related to health.

Recognising that it’s normal to find remembering thousands of facts, diagrams, numbers and spellings challenging, this book uses a number of effective strategies including: original colour illustrations, memory techniques, confidence boosters, stress-busters and time-saving devices. It also includes a supportive back-up system to be used alongside text books and lecturers’ notes.

Great Ways to Learn Anatomy and Physiology is £15.99 and can be ordered online from Palgrave. Images reproduced with permission from Charmaine McKissock.

Charmaines Illustrations

Alternative and Augmentative Communication – forthcoming staff development events

VOCA oaklands touchscreen close-upAAC encompasses a range of strategies used by people who cannot speak, or who have speech that is difficult for others to understand. Some forthcoming staff development events will focus on techniques and issues.

Staying on TrAACk on 26th October, is a one-day event at St John’s Hospital in Livingston. Appropriate for people with some experience, or a particular interest, in working with AAC users, the day will look at a range of topics, including: facilitating and reviewing transitions; AAC in a community adult service; and literacy and AAC. With lots of opportunities for questions and networking, the cost to attend is £20. For more details and to book a place, contact Jane Donnelly at FAACT on 08451 555555 or at

Using Digital Images for Communication will be hosted at KeyComm in Edinburgh on the afternoon of 9th November. This course focuses upon using digital images to support communication. Looking at how to use images within PowerPoint, Word and Boardmaker, a small part of the course will also look at using digital images within specific communication aids. Please book online using the booking form in the downloads area at

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Online learning: social photo stories from Common Knowledge

CK Bullying ScreenshotCommon Knowledge is a Glasgow-based initiative which makes the most of online technology to produce innovative learning resources for adults with learning disabilities. Their websites contain inspiring examples of how to use photographs and students/service-user involvement to create information that is accessible, engaging, age-appropriate and relevant.

CK’s resources could be used in college with groups looking at topics related to independent living and confidence-building. A new site, CK Respect, provides information and support about how to deal with bullying and harassment, while CK Sex Talk looks at relationships, including tips for staying safe online. Both sites utilize photostories looking at real-life situations, with accessible features like audio and (something I haven’t seen before!) a feature which converts words into txtspk.

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Review of ‘Literacy for All’ study day PLUS links to online resources for students at the beginning stages of reading and writing

You might remember I flagged up this event a few weeks ago on the blog. Sorry for not posting feedback sooner, however I’m pleased to say that the study day definitely lived up to, and exceeded, expectations! The visiting speaker, Caroline Musslewhite, was full of enthusiasm for her subject, which made for an inspiring and packed day. The focus of the study day was developing emergent literacy skills, particularly with learners who use AAC – i.e. people who use augmentative and alternative communication techniques such as symbols, right through to high tech voice output communication aids.

While part of the day focussed on developing literacy in young children with complex communication needs, this section was nonetheless fascinating to me as someone working in further education, as it provided context and important background information. Useful tips were shared on good practice when choosing texts and using symbols in the classroom.

Caroline moved on to look at emergent literacy in adults and emphasised the importance of enabling learners to freely express themselves to generate ideas for topics they’d like to write about. I’m used to demonstrating software which supports students at the beginning stages of writing to construct sentences – great for exposing learners to correct words and patterns which they can learn and gain confidence from. However, Caroline also demonstrated the importance of also providing lots of opportunities for free expression and shared some great ideas for engaging literacy activities. At the end of this post, I’ve included links to some online resources that were flagged up.

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Techshare 2007

One of BRITE’s Assistive Technology Development Officers, Monty Lilburn, attended the recent Techshare conference. Read on to learn more about the conference and to find out more about some of the specific sessions Monty attended during the conference, including:

– TV via the internet: a unique access opportunity
– DAISY Pipeline, Automated Document Format Transformations
– Accessible Video with Flash Technology
– The RNIB Book Site – delivering Daisy books online
– Web accessibility
– DAISY: The Digital World Library
– A comparison of Hal, JAWS and Window-Eyes in Office 2007
– Intellectual Property Protection: Approaches to Digital Rights Management


The RNIB’s annual Accessibility/Assistive Technology conference for professionals – Techshare 2007 – was held in London last month. This year Techshare attracted over 400 delegates from 25 countries. Although previous conferences focused specifically on blindness-related topics, this year’s event benefited from an expanded focus to include sessions and showcases targeted at a variety of disabilities. In addition, Techshare hosted the annual DAISY Technical Conference which allowed delegates from each forum to attend both streams of sessions.

Techshare offered delegates an opportunity to attend pre-conference workshops, listen to keynote speeches and attend presentations given by experts in the field of accessible technology.

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Symbols for communication: the choice is yours!

If you have attended one of our Communicate in Print seminars, worked with students who benefit from using symbols to aid communication and literacy, or just had a look at our online article on Using Images to Create Inclusive Learning Resources, you will perhaps be aware that there is a range of different types of symbols, or ‘symbol sets’ available.

Deciding which set to use, whether to mix symbols from different sets, or to include digital photos should always be guided by your students’ needs. Introducing a brand new symbol system when a student is used to another will be confusing and potentially counter-productive. Having access to more than one symbol set (plus digital photos) when producing materials gives you valuable flexibility.

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New from Dolphin: Solutions for Producing Alternative Formats

Dolphin has developed a range of tools to produce information in alternative formats. EasyConverter is an exciting product which could prove invaluable to college document production units. It’s a fast, flexible solution which allows you to quickly convert a range of original formats (including Word documents, PDFs and web pages) into Braille, MP3 audio, large print and DAISY (easily navigated digital audio book). The programme is very user-friendly and simple. EasyConverter even integrates with existing software, so if, for instance, you use Duxbury to produce Braille, EasyConverter will automatically use Duxbury when you use it to create Braille.

Books in DAISY format are useful to students who are blind, have low vision, are dyslexic or have other difficulties reading. DAISY books combine audio and on-screen highlighted text and allow users to navigate by heading and page number. The user can also add notes and bookmark pages.

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