University of Edinburgh

Newsletter 22 Autumn 2006


In this issue we fulfil our promise to report back on our conference on deaf education held in the Spring.  Similarly, we also hear from the ICEVI World conference held in Malaysia this summer. It is important for practitioners to be aware of current research to inform and enrich their own practice. Obviously some of this research base also feeds into our Seminars and Workshops Programme but there's nothing better than hearing it firsthand. The SSC is hoping to run a BSL 'immersion' weekend in the not too distant future in collaboration with two schools for the deaf: Donaldson’s and St Vincent's, and other partners; details are yet to be finalised but we will let you know as soon as they are.

We look back at one of our courses last year with a report from Mary Lee on Inger Rødbroe's visit to Edinburgh and the course she ran at the SSC in May on "Establishing and Developing Communication". During the course Inger demonstrated the use of video analysis as a tool for assessment, observation of interaction and development. An outcome of the course is that Mary Lee plans to run a workshop on video analysis through the SSC in March 2007.  Flyers will be sent out before the end of the year, but it should be noted that participant numbers will be restricted to allow detailed study of the videos brought by the course members.

We report on developments in the SSC including details of a revised and externally validated Braille Competency Course and a new Bulletin Board for Teachers of Deaf Children. The SSC Library Update reports on continued improvements and developments of the web catalogue and the database of journal contents.  Please keep checking back for new features on the SSC website.

Sheila Mackenzie
Newsletter Editor


My name is Rachel O'Neill and I have recently taken up the post of lecturer in deaf education at Moray House. I will be working at the Scottish Sensory Centre for one day a week, liaising closely with Mary Dowell to plan and organise the SSC CPD programmes for deaf education.

I have just moved up to Edinburgh from Manchester where I have taught deaf students in secondary and further education for 21 years. I also spent 5 years as a tutor of English as a Second Language in community education.  I have had a long connection with Edinburgh as my parents moved here in the 1980s. I have been to Moray House regularly over the years starting with meeting Christopher Jones as he pioneered the use of video discs in the 80s to teaching a language modification course in 2001 and, more recently, being a member of the advisory group for Mary Brennan’s last project about deaf students in higher education. I feel very honoured to be following in Mary’s footsteps and I hope I can continue some of the work she started, including the Achievement of Deaf Pupils in Scotland data collection and research.

My own interests are in literacy teaching and bilingual learning. I have also been involved in the training of electronic notetakers and communication support workers; I am interested in the ways these highly trained educational staff can allow teachers of deaf children/students to focus more on teaching and language support activities. 

At the Scottish Sensory Centre I will be managing the bilingual glossary project as we collect and standardise signs from Deaf informants to match the science curriculum. I am also interested in investigating the new CACDP* modules which could be of interest to teachers of deaf children and classroom assistants in language modification. I have been pleased to see the response to the Research Club mentioned in the last SSC newsletter from teachers of deaf children.  From this group, which is still open to anyone interested, I hope that we will have two working groups producing in-service training material drawing on the experience of practitioners across Scotland.

As I am new to deaf education in Scotland I would be very pleased if I can visit your service and shadow/talk to staff so that I can build up a better picture of what is happening in practice, and I hope, make new friends.  I am keen to make the Diploma in Deaf Education responsive to your needs.  My contact details are:
Telephone: (voice) 0131 651 6429
Mailing address:
Charteris 2.17
Moray House School of Education
University of Edinburgh
Holyrood Road
Edinburgh, EH8 8AQ

* CACDP: The Council for the Advancement of Communication with Deaf People

Rachel O’Neill

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Bulletin Board- Teachers of Deaf Children

The Scottish Sensory Centre has been asked to host a Scottish-led Bulletin Board for Teachers of Deaf Children. We are delighted to report that we will be able to provide this service in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh.

We hope that it will form yet another tool for teachers who are involved in the education of deaf children to share experience and expertise and for the dissemination of current reports and information.

To join, please contact Elizabeth Izatt ( with the following information:

Your Username and a Password (Please choose your own Username and Password)
Your First and Last names
An email address which you would like us to use.

Once we have received your request we will set up your account and email to you the full address of the board and introductory information.

We look forward to helping you to develop this resource.

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International Council for Education for People with Visual Impairment (ICEVI), Achieving Equality in Education: New Challenges and Strategies for Children for Change: 16th-21st July, 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

I was fortunate this summer to be able to present a research paper at the 12th ICEVI World Conference in the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  There were over 1,200 participants at this conference from 96 different countries!

After the 13 hour flight and at 6.00am, I was warmly greeted by what seemed to be an army of Malaysian Association of the Blind volunteers, who were obviously under strict instructions to forcibly put all presenters on the airport-to-city train, whether they were being met by friends or colleagues or not.  Thus I was whisked off to the train for the conference hotel and checked in. 

On the first day of the conference, the keynote session launched the main theme of the conference: the "Global Campaign on Education for All children with Visual Impairment". This global campaign and programme involves ICEVI acting in partnership with the World Blind Union to ensure that girls and boys with blindness and low vision enjoy the right to education in ALL countries of the world.  As you can imagine this campaign and the subsequent programme that will follow it focuses on children in the developing world.  Its main tenets are to provide early intervention for all preschool and school age boys and girls with visual impairment, to promote gender equality and empowerment of women and to initiate a global partnership for development. 

After this launch and opening speeches came the concurrent scientific sessions.  On the first session I attended the following presentations.

In-service training for teachers and other service providers of visually impaired students with multiple disabilities (Maguvhe Mbuhaleni)
This presentation detailed to what extent, in some African countries, in-service training  is important to teachers and others service providers of children with VI and MDVI.  It was found that the in-service training cemented mainstream teachers' confidence and helped with their overall competence in dealing with children with VI.  A view very much supported by the SSC.

Online Professional Development & Technology Training Opportunities for Educators of Students with VI  (Constance McAvoy and Anne Wadsworth)
I was really looking forward to this presentation as I wish to develop more online CPD material for the SSC.  I was not disappointed.  Constance delivered a very good presentation detailing the kind of material they have displayed at I cannot recommend this website enough.  Please go and have a look.  There are webcasts, video presentations, reviews of equipment, lectures and much more all online and all free to use.  I introduced myself to the team and hopefully the SSC and SET-BC will be able to develop some joint Scottish/Canadian resources!

Inclusion and Teacher Preparation (Asmaa Nouman)
The final paper of this session detailed how in some African countries children with VI are not included in mainstream education due to a variety of reasons, some cultural and some economic. There are a large number of parents now beginning to support the idea of having their children educated in a mainstream setting. As a result of this support the paper went on to detail the urgent need for mainstream teachers to be made aware of the needs of visually impaired children in their classroom. "Sounds familiar," I thought!

This led to lunch in a massive dining room seating over 1000 people. The choice of the food at the conference was fantastic.  Different types of curry, and laksa, a seafood noodle soup, all washed down by some very refreshing orange juice. As the conference was funded in part by the Malaysian government, which is Muslim, no alcohol was available throughout the conference.  In the afternoon I attended the European sessions where it was announced that the next ICEVI European Conference is to be in Dublin 2009 and will be hosted by the very welcoming and friendly team at St Joseph's School for the Visually Impaired. Eventually we escaped the conference venue for a few hours only to be back at 8.00pm for an evening entertainment and dinner, where we were entertained by dancers, singers and speeches with more curry and orange juice. Back at the hotel by 11.00pm and straight to bed!

Up early for a very busy day of attending not only the Keynote Session at 8.45am but to listen to another nine presentations. I was the Chair in the first of the morning's concurrent sessions, (for which I unexpectedly received a very beautiful pewter mug.)

Impact Assessment of CBR (Community Based Rehabilitation) Programmes in India (Somesh Dwivedi)
CBR: A vehicle for children with disabilities to a right and access to education
(Gebremedhin Tigabu)
Equality of Access to Education (India) (Ursula Jeddy)

Chairing these sessions was great, as I confessed to the audience, I knew very little about CBR in developing countries and I found the whole session very interesting. For those who want to know more please either get in touch with me or visit for an overview

The afternoon session bought some more very interesting papers.
Neonates: Early attention in visual impairment (Merce Leonhardt & Joan Amades)
Evaluation on the effectiveness of the Mobile Eye Treatment Centres on China (Grace Chan)
The preference of low vision devices of the Hong Kong low vision students
(Joseph Cho and Susanna Lee)

In brief: It was very interesting to hear how low vision educationalists visit neonatal units and study the visual processes onwards. The speaker mentioned how the incubators/cots should be covered in very premature babies to protect their eyes from light and how sound should be minimised. The second paper detailed what affected the efficiency of mobile eye treatment centres in China. Funding, staff support, follow-up care, administrative and policy support were all considered. The final paper in this session showed us that the most common low vision devices in Hong Kong were telescopes and special light filters for distance vision and stand magnifiers for near work. Overall the paper emphasised the importance of trying 'low tech', low cost low vision aids before jumping to high tech solutions.

I was asked if I could attend a special meeting on training teachers in developing countries; many participants were very interested in the role the SSC played in Scotland and whether a similar centre could be set up in various other countries. I am sure I have developed some very interesting networks across the world as a result of attending this meeting.

This was the special workshop day and I attended the workshop given by UK colleagues Mike McLinden and Steve McCall from the University of Birmingham. The workshop was titled "Preparing Specialist Teachers to Work in the Real World through E-Learning: Exploring the Role of Problem Based Learning (PBL)".  I found this workshop very useful and I hope to take some of their ideas and implement them into the forthcoming SSC programme. Thanks lads for solving some of my online learning problems!

Lunch – oh no, more curry and what is this purple mouthwash-style drink? – actually I preferred this drink to the orange juice but I appeared out of all the 1,200 participants to be the only one drinking it. (Maybe it was mouthwash after all??)

Thursday (The day of my presentation)
8.45am start! The four keynote speakers were from four different countries, however there were not enough translator headsets to go around, so I could only understand the first Australian speaker. This was a real shame. Never mind, I took the opportunity to read though my talk several times. 

As my talk was after the lunchtime curry I attended sessions about the educational experiences of women and girls:
Creating Educational Equity for Women and Girls (Susan Jam)
Equalizing educational opportunities for Nigerian-Ghanaian blind girl-child (Florence Banku)
Violence against girls who are blind in schools in Malawi (Abigail Suka)

This, as you can imagine, was a very alarming and upsetting session, however, I am glad to report that progress is being made on this issue and that all three speakers felt that change, although slow, was beginning to happen. A very thought-provoking session.

Curry Time! And the orange juice makes a welcome return for the other participants.

So finally, it's the graveyard shift and time for my presentation. The paper I presented was titled "A parent-led notification model of childhood disability. The profile of Scottish children with visual impairment". If you would like a copy of the presentation please email me and I would be glad to send you it.

I shared the session with three other speakers and I was the second presenter. The first paper, "The integrated comprehensive eye service report for visually impaired children: (Egypt)" presented by Doaa Farid was a very good paper indeed. Dr Farid detailed how she and her team went out to identify in her local area of 200,000 people all the children who were visually impaired. (Her local education authorities claimed there were no children with VI attending schools.) I can’t remember the exact number she found but it was staggering; they found that there were children with 3/60 vision and so on. The presentation went on to detail how she initiated support services both educational and medical. Excellent!

My paper went down very well, I think, as I stressed the importance of finding out the exact nature of the VI population we are all trying to serve. This was echoed by a director of Sight Savers International who was in the audience. She really appreciated the type of analysis I delivered. The third speaker was unable to attend as he is from Palestine and could not get out of the country due to recent events. Along with the first speaker, I gave an extended question and answer session about why calculator models of the numbers of children with VI should not necessarily be used as a guide to service delivery. This debate actually went on for another 70 minutes; I felt this was an extremely good session. I was very pleased to be part of it.

This was the last of the sessions so we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the evening's entertainment of singing, dancing, speeches, curry and orange juice.

We started again at 8.45am with some reflections of the conference. This lasted until lunchtime where we had our final plates of curry and orange juice. Then it was time to pack up and head to the airport.

Overall I found the conference very informative and extremely interesting, one of the best yet.  The Malaysians were fantastic hosts and very friendly. I would recommend a trip to Malaysia anytime.  The food was very good, and if you believe that there was no beer to be had in KL at all then . . .

John Ravenscroft, SSC Co-ordinator & Manager, VI Scotland

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Accessible Theatre for Deaf People

Deaf and hard of hearing theatre audiences will soon see an improvement of access thanks to a two-year grant from the Scottish Arts Council and the ADAPT Trust to set up a captioning service in Scotland and funding from the Gannochy Trust and the Hugh Fraser Foundation to buy the equipment.

STAGETEXT, which pioneered theatre captioning in the UK in May 2000, is initially working with theatres in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen to develop the service, and has trained three local captioners.  Fifteen captioned performances are planned for the first year;  20 in year two.

Artlink have also conducted a study into the current provision for deaf theatre-goers.  On the strength of this study they aim to improve the provision and links between the deaf community and theatres across Scotland.  A copy of the report is available to borrow from the SSC Library.

We also note that the Scottish Council on Deafness includes accessible performances on their calendar where known, including subtitled cinema screenings.

For further information on captioned performances in Scotland:
STAGETEXT, York House, Empire Way, Wembley HA9 0PA.
Telephone / Textphone: 020 8903 5566 
Fax: 020 8903 8647

For further information on Artlink:
Artlink, 13a Spittal Street, Edinburgh EH3 9DY
Voice / SMS text: 0131 2293555
Typetalk calls welcome

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Language and Deaf Education: Into 21st Century: Dunblane Hydro, March 2006


The Whys and Wherefores

It’s an exciting time in deaf education. So many developments are happening so fast that it’s hard to keep up. Cochlear implantation, digital hearing aids, the implications of recognition of BSL, new research into cognitive and linguistic development (BSL as well as English), universal newborn hearing screening … all of these constantly-improving developments impact on the potential for deaf children to develop age-appropriate language, to have complete linguistic access to education and enjoy life to the full.

But, as we know, the history of deaf education has been fraught with acrimonious disagreement about language and communication. In order to ‘seize the moment’ offered by progress, there is a pressing need to take stock of what we now know about the whole picture, and move on. We felt that a residential conference with internationally renowned presenters would help with the process of taking stock.

Professor Marc Marschark is a leading academic in deaf education. He has published prolifically – books as well as academic articles – and edits the international Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education. The fact that he has a strong link with Scotland, being a visiting professor at Aberdeen University, and that he has just published two companion volumes which focus on advances in both spoken and signed language developments*, led us to contact him first. He was not only keen to endorse a message of 'glancing back whilst moving forward' through a keynote presentation, but was also willing to help with the conference planning. 

Meanwhile, sadly, Dr Mary Brennan was reaching the latter stage of illness, just as the notion of the conference was emerging. When she died in June 2005, it was decided that one of the ways of marking her life-long commitment to the rights of deaf children and their families would be by dedicating the conference and its proceedings to her memory.  

Soon a formidable team of highly respected academics were signed up to present: Sue Archbold, Sue Gregory and Alys Young from the UK; Harry Knoors from Holland; Connie Mayer from Canada; Marc Marschark and Steve Nover from the USA and Greg Leigh from Australia. Three Scottish former pupils were also happy to contribute to a 'literacy narrative' session. Sterling work was done by the SSC admin team in sorting out travel and accommodation arrangements, finances, the technicalities of setting up presentation slide shows etc and organisation of exhibitors – to name but a few of the tasks involved.

The planning team wanted to ensure that as many Scottish teachers of deaf children as possible had access to such a high quality programme of research presentations, and so the cost of places had to be kept down. At the same time, we agreed that we wanted the environment to be conducive to a comfortable 'immersion' experience – enabling teachers to get away from it all in a pleasant place where networking could be done in the bar or over a nice meal, as well as in more formal discussion sessions.

Thankfully, we were able to get sponsorship from a number of places to help us achieve the balance: the Scottish Executive, Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh Research Support Office, Oxford University Press, Philip Green Memorial Trust, the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS), NDCS Inclusion Project, and the Scottish Sensory Centre (SSC). John Ravenscroft, Co-ordinator of the SSC, had the unenviable position of being where the buck stops in terms of financial risks!  His support and encouragement made it possible for us to keep pretty well to our original aims. 

We tried a number of different hotels, but settled for Dunblane Hydro because of its location, the conference facilities and the grand setting. Although there were one or two aspects which could have been improved on the days of the conference, the venue seemed to work well overall. 

As the SSC was making headway with a digital archive of Mary Brennan's early work, we decided to launch the archive as the after-dinner evening session. Gerry Hughes, who worked as a researcher with Mary in the 1980s, agreed to contribute to the session by presenting a BSL poem he created in her memory, as part of a multi-lingual, multi-dialect celebration of language (including a Geordie poem from John Ravenscroft and a Burns poem from Eileen Burns and Stephen Wilson).

As you might imagine, on the days of the conference there were lots of last-minute challenges. However, on the whole, the challenges were overcome and contributors did us proud with stimulating and thought-provoking presentations. Feedback afterwards from delegates was very encouraging. Of course there were things which people felt could have been improved, and these will be taken note of for future occasions. But it was particularly heartening to read so many comments from people who valued the opportunity to link research to practice, in a place where there was time and space to reflect and discuss. It made the work involved worthwhile and, hopefully, it will be possible to organise similar events in future.

Proceedings from the conference will be in the form of a special issue of the Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, dedicated to Mary’s memory. At the time of writing the articles are in the process of being reviewed and the issue is likely to be published early in the new year. Watch this space for further details.

Marian Grimes, Specialist in Deaf Education, Scottish Sensory Centre

*Spencer, P and Marschark, M (2006) Advances in the Spoken Language Development of Deaf Children. Oxford: OUP
Schick, B, Marschark, M and Spencer, P (2006) Advances in the Sign Language Development of Deaf Children. Oxford: OUP

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Language and Deaf Education: Feedback from the field ...

Feedback 1: The title of the Scottish Sensory Centre (SSC) Conference of March 2006 “Language and Deaf Education: into the 21st Century” seemed, to me, like a battle-cry for empowerment in Deaf Education. Rousing stuff indeed – and my optimistic expectations of the event were met and exceeded.

The pace of the two-day event was excellent; Professor Marc Marschark (Department of Research, Technical Institute for the Deaf, New York) directed the programme on Day One with wit and good humour and Professor Graham Turner (Heriot-Watt University) continued in the same vein on Day Two. The whole event was presented in a relaxed but very stimulating manner; an eclectic group of international speakers provided insights into current research and practice on a wide range of issues relevant to Language and Deaf Education.

As a practising Teacher of the Deaf I found it a wonderful luxury to experience the insights of so many inspiring presenters and then have the opportunity to discuss issues raised with my peers. As a teacher of secondary English, I have a real interest in the acquisition of language in the deaf child and its subsequent effect on literacy. As such I particularly appreciated Professor Connie Mayer’s (Faculty of Education, University of York, Toronto) practical approach to this topic as well as her theories on early intervention; it was very interesting to see actual examples of pupils’ work used to support various points.

Dr Steve Nover (Director of Centre for ASL and English Bilingual Research, New Mexico) presented on Language Policy in Deaf Education. I found Dr Nover’s description of an ASL/English Bilingual model very relevant to my current role teaching in a Total Communication context but personally aspiring to a Sign/Bilingual policy.

It was also fascinating to hear of the effect of Universal Neonatal Hearing Screening in New South Wales as described by Professor Greg Leigh (University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia) and the social impact it made on the Deaf community in that area. Professor Alys Young (Professor of Social Work, Education and Research, The University of Manchester) provided a very interesting account of her research in Newborn Hearing screening from a British perspective.

There certainly was a lot to take in but what wonderful food for thought and what excellent professional development! On a practical note, it’s worth mentioning that the delegates’ physical needs were as well looked after as their cerebral – Dunblane Hydro proved to be a perfect venue with facilities and hospitality of a very high standard. The evening entertainment (organised by SSC staff) included the launch of Mary Brennan’s collected archive and, as so many times throughout the event, the tributes to the well-loved Dr Brennan were abundant.

Suffice to say, the Conference was a memorable and extremely positive experience for all involved. The main objective of examining the diverse developments in Deaf Education and language issues had been achieved.  However, just in case everyone got too giddy with academic endeavour, we were reminded by Marc Marschark that the reason we were all there was because in Deaf Education “we are dealing with lives, emotions and rights/responsibilities”. So for me, the conference had been as I imagined, an empowering, and somewhat emotional, experience and I came away feeling renewed in my commitment to champion the rights of deaf children and young people to full linguistic access and to develop my teaching skills in my personal quest to achieve this. I hope Mary  would have approved.
Mary Dowell, St Vincent’s School for the Deaf, Member of the SSC CPD (Deaf) Team

Feedback 2: I felt very privileged to be asked to attend the Scottish Sensory Centre Residential Conference at Dunblane Hydro in March this year. For me it proved to be an extremely interesting and thought-provoking two days. There was an excellent range of speakers who covered their relevant area with enthusiasm and provided us with the benefit of their knowledge and experience. It was also an excellent opportunity to meet with other professionals and parents. At the end of the conference I left with a much better understanding of language and issues within deaf education and felt it had been well worth attending.
Rhona Greig, Carnbooth School, Carmunnock

Feedback 3:  The course provided the opportunity for isolated Teachers of the Deaf, such as myself, to come together with a range of professionals and take some time out to discuss the many developments taking place in the education of deaf children. Presenters represented various parts of the world providing insight into their own personal experiences and thus sharing expertise. Evening entertainment united Deaf and hearing together providing an interesting and enjoyable evening.
Melissa Millan, St Vincent’s School for the Deaf

Feedback 4: Language is Power
Marc Marschark, Alys Young, Sue Archbold, Connie Mayer and Sue Gregory: names in journals and books. As a relative ‘newcomer’ to Deaf Education and in my final study year at Moray House I eagerly anticipated the Conference as an opportunity to put faces to those names and to hear firsthand from those whose research and writing have influenced my own professional thinking and practice. I most certainly was not disappointed. The Conference brought together an international field of presenters in order to consider the practice implications of key research in the light of a number of significant legislative, policy and technical developments which have impacted linguistic access relative to ‘Deaf Education’.

The speakers shared personal experiences or research findings in a realistic, ‘down to earth’ manner which was both thought-provoking and challenging. The opportunities afforded for discussion with fellow professionals and the presenters were most constructive. It was also encouraging to find that researchers are now recognising the value of ‘leaving behind politics and prior assumptions’ in order to focus on ‘objective, integrative research, adopting a holistic view of the children rather than a reductionist perspective.’ Yes! At last!  How refreshing. Children are not ‘things’. They are, first and foremost . . . children!

The proceedings were aptly dedicated to Dr Mary Brennan who stated, ‘By recognising the child as, in effect, a ‘little linguist’ we are also recognising the power and effectiveness of the child’s linguistic capacity.’

It has often been said that ‘Language is power’. Surely then, as professionals, we need to ensure that we are a positive influence, enabling the children access to language in order to empower them. If we don’t view them as potentially active and capable learners, then how can we expect those in mainstream schools to do so? 

I left Dunblane in a positive frame of mind, with plenty of food for thought. Thank you to the organisers for such a worthwhile event. Excellent!
Sarah Keenan, Ayrshire Hearing Impairment Service

And a note to end on - when’s the next one?

Conference Quotes
How will you use what you have learned?
Lots of food for thought – have found the speakers quite inspirational.
Will inform my practice in teaching deaf pupils and inform plans for development.
I will be thinking more about learning styles and helping deaf children to greater achievement.
It reinforced some of the things I learned being new to Deaf education. Also made me want to read more research, re-evaluate teaching methods.

What was best about the conference?
Hearing speakers from outside UK. Chances for these are few and far between in Scotland.
A great gathering of educators!! – Worthwhile and current.
Refreshing to listen to the people who are producing these research materials as it is not always possible to find time to ‘read’ and digest these documents.
An excellent memory to Mary. She would have been proud and no doubt embarrassed to think all these people gathered together in honour of her work.
I am glad I was here and feel sorry for my colleagues who didn’t attend and missed the thought-provoking ideas.
Challenging ideas, thought-provoking informative high quality of speakers and communication.
When’s the next one?

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Establishing and Developing Communication

Inger rodbroe

On Thursday 25th & Friday 26th May, we had the pleasure to spend two days in the company of Inger Rødbroe, Developmental Consultant for the Danish Resource Centre for Congenital Deafblindness. She was invited to the Scottish Sensory Centre to deliver a course on "Establishing and Developing Communication" with children who are visually impaired with additional support needs or who are multi sensory impaired. The course was a great success and attended by a number of parents and professionals, mostly from special schools throughout Scotland - from Shetland to the Borders.

Inger is no stranger to Scotland, having delivered in-service for the Royal Blind School at Canaan Lane Campus and for Sense Scotland in Glasgow. It has long been my ambition that she should be more widely known in Scotland, since she has the power to inspire people with her thoughtful and practical presentations, based on the latest research into early child development and the particular developmental characteristics of children who are born with multi sensory impairments. Indeed she is firmly of the belief that researchers into ‘ordinary’ child development can learn a great deal from observing the unique development of a child without sight or hearing.

One memorable aspect of Inger’s talk concerned what she has called, 'co-creating' communication. That is, adult and child can experience an activity together through movement; acting and sharing it together. The gestures involved in that activity then form the 'narrative' for the recall or memory of that activity. By repeating the movements involved a little while later, the adult can build up a story that recalls the event and is understood by both partners. Inger emphasised the importance of the emotional content of the communication. This, of course, is what makes any conversation more involving and interesting. She talked about how we relate the story of what happened, using our voice and gestures to create peaks and troughs until we eventually build to the exciting climax.

Throughout the two days, Inger talked about and demonstrated the use of video analysis as a tool for assessment and as a means of truly observing a child and trying to work out exactly what is happening in an interaction and how this can be developed. She demonstrated the technique on videos featuring members of the audience. Much of her analysis addressed the question of how to move on from very early interaction to begin to develop more symbolic communication. I am hopeful that an outcome of the course will be that I will run another day on video analysis in which participants come together, bringing videos from their own places of work and spend the day helping each other out with comments and observations from the group.  (See SSC Course 14.)

Inger can be contacted at the Nordic Staff Training Centre, Slotsgade 8, DK-9330 Dronninglund, Denmark.

Mary Lee, Principal Teacher, Curriculum, Assessment & Staff Development, Royal Blind School, Canaan Lane Campus, Edinburgh
Co-creating communication by Anne Nafstad & Inger Rødbroe.

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Braille Competency Certificate, New Developments

Over the past few years the number of children using Grade 1 Braille, especially those with additional difficulties has increased and there has been a call for a Grade 1 Braille Course.

In order to address this need, as from January 2007 the SSC will be offering a Grade 1 Braille Course in addition to the current Grade 2 Braille Course. Both of these courses have now been externally validated by the Scottish Qualifications Authority and those completing the course will receive an SQA Certificate. The current SSC Braille Competency Certificate will no longer be issued to those enrolling after January 2007. For those who enrolled in 2006 it is hoped that the option of the SQA Certificate will be available if wished.

The Grade 1 Braille is a three-month course and the Grade 2 Braille continues to be an eighteen-month course. On satisfactory completion of the Final Assessment an SQA Certificate will be issued.

Costs for the 2007 Courses are as follows:
Grade 1 Braille Course - £150
Grade 2 Braille Course - £350
Grade 2 Braille Final Assessment only - £100

Morag Heeps, Braille Competency Course Tutor, Scottish Sensory Centre

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Assessment and Management of Children with Severe Visual Difficulties

This course aims to increase the understanding and expertise in assessing and managing babies and young children with severe visual impairment. The course fosters an understanding of the development of young children with severe visual impairment including the assessment of functional vision and development, management of the promotion of vision and development and an introduction to the new Developmental Journal for young children with visual impairment (Early Support programme, DfES). Course participants will be introduced to a variety of systematic tools for assessment and management, including the Developmental Journal (DfES) which has been developed by the Course Directors.

Course Directors: Naomi Dale, Alison Salt
Speakers: Dorothy Thompson, Nicola Ragge, Jugnoo Rahi, Patricia Sonksen, Chris Timms, Isabelle Russell Eggitt, Jenefer Sargent, Tony Moore, Liz Gould, Jackie Osbourne, Diane Wingfield

Dates:  27th November – 1st December 2006
Venue: UCL Institute of Child Health, London
Cost: £655
Contact University College London for more information:
UCL Institute of Child Health 30 Guilford Street, London WC1N 1EH
Telephone: 020 7242 9789
Fax: 020 7831 0488

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Resource Library Update

This summer I have been concentrating on adding more journal articles to the web database. You will see a big increase in the material indexed. Hopefully this will enable you to find, more easily, current research and practice in the Journals we take here. As time permits I am looking back and adding worthwhile articles from our older Journal stocks.

You might also notice that any web addresses relating to any material on the web catalogue have all been checked and are clickable. You will now have direct access to all the materials we have catalogued that are freely available on the web, such as Scottish Executive publications and reports. This also applies to the relatively small number of journal articles that have been published on the web but not as part of any e-journal subscription. Some of the web references only link to related websites and not to the text of the item. 

Please let me know if you have any suggestions or comments on this service, as well as reporting any problems.

Sheila Mackenzie,
Resource Library,
Telephone: 0131 651 6069