The past year has been tough for the special needs software industry due to the discontinuation of the Communication Aids Project and other schemes. However, at this year’s Special Needs London exhibition and conference, organized by the Sen body, Nasen, many companies are making efforts to capture a share of the mainstream market while still catering to children with disabilities or sensory needs.
This year’s products reflect the government’s emphasis on literacy. Skill Builders from Sherston can help pupils with pre-reading skills like sorting. The CD-ROM and an accompanying workbook come with speech support. Besides, pupils can access the materials with a mouse or a switch and increase the cursor’s size.
Semerc is promoting Think About to improve memory and concentration among key stage 2 students. The CD-ROM and workbook provide good stories, differentiated text, and clipart to help students develop their listening and comprehension skills. Heather Whibley from the Lichfield Specific Learning Difficulties Centre says the "On-screen reader option means that children with weaker reading skills can happily work alongside children who may not need to access this option."
Textease Studio CT from Softease has developed a Community@Home license. This allows pupils and teachers to use the same software at home as at school. According to Angela Thompson, ICT coordinator at Penclawdd primary school, Textease Studio is extremely child-friendly.
Trackers from Clicker and Oxford University Press come with a level 7 program complementing the six levels from Elephant to Zebra Track. This software will help students develop word recognition, phonetics, and sytactical skills, and it’ll be especially beneficial for those learning English as a second language. Other software like Talk-2-Talk from Resource can also support various languages. It can be set up, so any spoken languages will be heard and seen in English, followed by the equivalent phrase or sentence in another language.
Older students who don’t enjoy storybooks may benefit from the Start-to-Finish Core Content non-fiction resources from Don Johnston. Widgit is also focusing on non-fiction resources. They have new science packs that cover vocabulary and basic concepts from the QCA plan.
Many companies are interested in software that can help students with dyslexia. Text readers like ClaroRead is often used by learners with restricted vision. It gives access to information and ideas for students and has increased Olivia Fraser’s independence. She no longer relies on her mother for support. Jumbo XL from Inclusive Technology is another great software where vowel keys are a different color from consonants, emphasizing every syllable has to contain a vowel.
Lastly, Inclusive Technology is celebrating its 10th anniversary by launching SwitchIt! Bob the Builder. This program is designed specifically for children with severe disabilities. The proceeds are going to the Manchester Children’s Hospital Appeal.
Discover a range of innovative companies at the ICT Expo. Visit the Clicker stand at ICT 22 for exciting tech solutions. Explore the Don Johnston stand at ICT 33 to discover cutting-edge products. Head to Inclusive Technology at ICT 15 for inclusive and accessible technology designed for all. For a comprehensive resource center, check out Resource at ICT 2. SEMERC at ICT 71 offers technology specifically for those with special educational needs. Visit Sherston at ICT 25 for engaging educational software and interactive resources. Softease at ICT 20 offers a variety of software solutions for education and beyond. Finally, don’t miss Widgit at ICT 53 for symbol-based communication solutions.