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

Host a BRITE seminar and receive free training for your employees

We’d love to hear from you if you’re interested in hosting a seminar during the next academic session.

In exchange for providing facilities and refreshments, you’ll receive a minimum of 6 free places on the seminar for your employees. We provide the seminar content, teaching staff, marketing, and admin.

If your institution would be interested in hosting one of the following seminars, please get in touch with our training manager, Niall, at

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Seen at BETT – Hardware

BETT logoLast week I spent one and a half days at BETT; the biggest education technology exhibition in the UK.  There are many large exhibitors (Google, Microsoft etc.) who have spent thousands on their stands and are all amplifying their presentations so they can be heard over each other.  However the really interesting stands – as far as Assistive Technology is concerned – are tucked away up on the balcony or in the SEN Zone which is right at the back of the hall.

This post will focus on interesting new hardware developments and I’ll write in the near future about software developments.  Click on any images for a larger view. Continue reading

Resource Round-up: Supporting Communication

The way we use language and communicate significantly shapes how we engage with learning. Some students may experience difficulty understanding certain concepts, while others may use alternatives to speech.

If you support students who have communication difficulties, or you would just like to learn more, some new resources provide background information and examples of support strategies.

The Hello campaign marks 2011 as the national year of communication. Hello is a campaign to increase understanding of how important it is for young people to develop good communication skills.

A number of resources have been made available on the Hello website. While the focus is often on children, many of the resources have relevance to those working with school leavers.

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ICT and Inclusion 2011

In June, CALL Scotland, BRITE and JISC RSC Scotland North and East worked together to offer two days of free exhibitions and demonstrations of technology for students with additional support needs.

Attendees, including many colleagues from the further education sector, enjoyed the opportunity to see a large range of resources all in one place. There was also a chance to meet suppliers, ask questions and gain more in-depth information where required.

In addition to a timetable of supplier sessions focusing on key products, members of the BRITE team joined CALL, JISC and local practitioners to deliver presentations looking at ways in which technology may be used to create more inclusive learning environments.

Sessions were very well-attended, in some instances there was standing room only! Read on for summaries of the BRITE workshops, including useful links.

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Communication Matters Road Show visits Northern Ireland in June

While BRITE is a Scottish initiative, the success of our virtual training which takes place entirely online, has enabled participants from further afield to join us.

At the moment, many of our online trainees are based in Northern Ireland. With this in mind, we’ll endeavour to include news of events relevant to all our trainees as our readership expands.

On June 21st 2011 the Communication Matters Road Show will visit Belfast. These days are free to attend, but you do need to register in advance.

The focus of the day is on the latest technology for people with complex needs who may require specialist technology to communicate and/or to access a computer by alternative means.

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Eye Gaze Study Day – report

Individual using eye-gaze technologyThis full and informative day was held at Stirling Management Centre on 9th November.  Eyegaze technology has been growing in usage and availability in the last few years.  It enables users with very little movement to have meaningful access to communication and computer technology.

Dr. Mick Donegan who has been involved in research in this area for over six years summed up how far the technology had moved forward and gave several examples of users who had benefitted.  Other practitioners including Janet Scott from SCTCI in Glasgow gave key advice on how, why and when to consider eye gaze technology for individuals.

There will be a chance to find out more about this exciting area and to try some eye gaze systems at a BRITE seminar entitled Computer Access for Students with Profound and Complex Needs which takes place in March 2011.  To book onto the seminar click here or ring 0131 535 4756.

Print Disability Copyright Licence

Image of random textIt used to be that in copyright terms you were on shaky ground if adapting text for individuals who were not Visually Impaired, but who may struggle with print.  Earlier this year the Copyright Licensing Agency announced a new Print Disability Licence.  This will ensure that educational institutions are covered when adapting text to alternative formats whether print or digital.

The licence describes a print-disabled person as “…anyone for whom a visual, cognitive or physical disability hinders the ability to read print. This includes all visual impairments, dyslexia, and any physical disabilities that prevent the handling of a physical copy of a print publication.”

If adapting resources for students or staff within your college you are covered by an extension to the standard CLA licence.  You would only need to apply for the full PDL if you circulate adapted resources outwith your organisation.  The full guidelines can be found on the CLA website.

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.

Publication on Provision for Learners with Profound and Complex Needs

The Report on Provision in Scotland’s Colleges for Learners with Profound and Complex Needs, following research undertaken by the BRITE Initiative (commissioned by the Scottish Government and Scottish Funding Council), has now been published on the Scottish Government’s website. Here is the link to the full report: