University of Edinburgh
 

Newsletter 27 Spring 2009

 

Editorial

braille day

Once again we are so grateful to all those who have contributed to this newsletter with articles from the field. It is an essential part of our work in the SSC that exchange of ideas and sharing of good practice is encouraged. We hope more people are inspired by the stories in this newsletter and are inspired to share their own practice and ideas.

This time we hear from our 'neighbours' CALL Scotland (formerly the CALL Centre) who recently celebrated their 25th anniversary. From further afield we have an article on a pilot of Electronic Notetaking for deaf pupils and a trial using Skype (free software allowing video telephone calls over the Internet) which is helping deaf pupils in Carnoustie and at Donaldson's to communicate with each other.

Evelyn MacMillan, Sensory Support Service in Glasgow, describes their parents' group as part of their excellent work with families of children in their early years, and Hazelwood School looks at how they are using Moon with their pupils. We hope that you enjoy reading about these developments as much as we do.

The SSC have also made contributions on the Journey to Excellence: Improving achievements for blind/partially sighted pupils and we report on the developments there. Plus there's lots of good stuff about courses and events, such as the Braille exhibition to celebrate the bicentenary of Louis Braille (see adjacent photo).

Please get in touch with us if you have any suggestions or ideas, we would love to hear from you.

STOP PRESS
We are delighted to finally see the publication of the Scoping Study: Linguistic access to education for deaf pupils and students in Scotland report which Marian Grimes worked very hard to produce (in collaboration with SSC and NDCS on behalf of the Scottish Government's Equality Unit). The aim was to take stock of current Scottish provision for deaf pupils and students in the school, FE and HE sectors, and to identify key issues. It will form part of the 'Roadmap' to linguistic access for deaf people of all ages, prepared by Lynn Hawcroft, who is working with the Equality Unit. The full report can be accessed on the Scottish Government website:

Sheila Mackenzie
SSC Newsletter Editor

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Introducing ...

Linda

Hello, I am Linda Hope the new Senior Secretary at the Scottish Sensory Centre. I started working at the Centre just over a month ago now at the beginning of February ... how time flies! I now know slightly more than I did when I started. I am enjoying the change of culture as in my previous life I was a legal secretary!

I was born in Edinburgh but grew up in Haddington and still miss cycling round the East Lothian countryside. Now, however I like to escape up the northeast coast of Scotland whenever possible!

I may have met or spoken to some of you on the telephone already but I am looking forward to meeting many more new people in my role here at the SSC.
Linda Hope

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Christine

With Janis's appointment as Co-ordinator of the Scottish Sensory Centre, the SSC needed to recruit another Teacher of Visually Impaired Children for the VI CPD team. We are pleased, therefore, to announce that Christine Stones from Stirling was appointed in December 2008. Christine will be known to many of you, and she has worked with the SSC for many years, often contributing to our CPD courses. Christine is with SSC on one day secondment and when she is not here Christine is Acting Co-ordinator in Stirling Council for the Support for Learning Area Network Team (SLANT).

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Changes to the SSC Website

The website is in the process of being made more compliant with up-to-date web accessibility guidelines. The overall appearance of the website will not change very much, except that it will be fixed width instead of 'stretching' to fit the window. The Quick Links will go but will be replaced with links in the main menu on the left hand side of the page. The big differences will not be visible except for people using screen readers or who have all styles turned off; in which case the information on every page will be very simply laid out. There will be more graphics introduced on the index pages to make the website more colourful.

Heads of Services Forum
The Forum for Heads of Services will have a new, custom made section on the website. This should be active by March 2009. Forum members will be contacted soon by the SSC Administrator with details of how to access this section of the website for Notes of Meetings, Agendas, attachments and handouts, etc.

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the patch

Resource Library Update

This session we have bought a couple of lovely children's books which are related to visual impairment and a fantastic biography aimed at adults. Jennifer Skillen, Manager of VI Scotland, recommended to us the autobiography by Ryan Knighton, Cockeyed. Ryan begins to realise he is losing his sight to Retinitis Pigmentosa in his late teens and describes with humour his adventures coping with becoming a 'visually impaired person'. At the beginning of the book Ryan is a typical teenager; he doesn't want to accept that he can't do certain things, like driving a car. Ryan gets into a lot of trouble but he also learns to find ways around his lack of sight.

The Patch is a picture book for young children about irrepressible Becca and how she tackles getting an eye-patch and glasses. It is a fun book which is filled with playful illustrations. Private and Confidential is a picture book for slightly older readers (primary school aged) about a girl who gets a new penfriend who turns out to be blind. They begin to correspond in Braille and there is a 'secret' Braille message at the back of the book for children to practise on and would perhaps be good for awareness-raising sessions about Braille, though it doesn't touch on other aspects of visual impairment.

all join in

All Join In is a DVD from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) Triangle which was made with a diverse group of 3-7 year olds to help develop skills for communicating. The children explain in their own words what it is like to meet and get along with the other children. The group includes children who cannot speak, who have physical disabilities and who are deaf. The aim of the film is to help explore social and emotional aspects of learning as the group interact with each other. The DVD has an option for BSL throughout and would be a useful tool for exploring emotions in class as well as a useful reminder for adults who work with children to see the world through their eyes. A booklet accompanies the DVD with ideas for use of the video material.

As always, the New Items list is enclosed for all library members. Let me know if you would like to browse any of our stock.
Sheila Mackenzie
Resource Library Manager
Telephone: 0131 651 6069

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CALL Scotland 25th Anniversary

call anniversary

CALL Scotland (formerly the CALL Centre) recently celebrated the 25th Anniversary of its foundation in 1983. CALL now stands for 'Communication, Access, Literacy and Learning'. The Anniversary was marked by a celebration with a number of invited speakers and guests. We were delighted to receive a beautiful print by Rob Hain from our friends in the SSC, with whom we have shared premises for the past ten years.

CALL receives funding from the Scottish Government and individual local authorities to provide a range of services to support all those involved in meeting the needs of people who require augmentative communication and/or specialised technology, particularly in education. Much of this work involves visits to schools to assess the needs of pupils who have been referred to CALL in order to help them access the curriculum.

Books for All
In addition, CALL has worked on a number of research and development projects, including Personal Communication Passports, the Smart Wheelchair, and work with the SQA to make exams more accessible. Recent work has had a focus on making books and other print materials more accessible for pupils with reading difficulties. This work, under the general heading Books for All, has had a number of themes:

Copyright - CALL's Books for All Report

pointed out that copyright law was 'inequitable' because it allowed schools to make accessible copies of books for pupils with visual or physical impairments but not for other disabled pupils such as those with dyslexia. Following discussions with the Scottish Government and the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA), we are pleased to report that this is no longer the case.

The CLA have now widened their education licences so that, provided an Accessible Copy of a work is not commercially available, a school may make one for a pupil who "is visually impaired or otherwise disabled and by reason of such visual impairment or disability is unable to read or access a Licensed Copy". 'Disability' is defined by the Disability Discrimination Act, 1995 to include people with dyslexia and learning difficulties. Further information about the licences is available from www.cla.co.uk.

The Scottish Voice - Pupils and teachers in Scottish schools often complain to us about the quality of synthetic speech on computers. In response to this, CALL liaised with Cereproc Ltd to develop a new voice. 'Heather', the high quality Scottish computer voice that was announced by Adam Ingram, Minister for Children and Early Years, on 8th May is available free of charge to Scottish schools and pupils.

Books for All Scotland Database - Another issue identified in the Books for All Report was the need to create a mechanism for schools to share Accessible Copies of books. We have been working with Scran and Learning and Teaching Scotland to create and pilot a database. The database now exists with a small number of resources (mainly Large Print) which have been provided by the Edinburgh and Lothians VI transcription service. We are currently working with more local authority services and with publishers to add more resources for a wider range of pupils, including those who are dyslexic. We hope that the database will 'go live' in April - watch this space!

WordTalk 4 - WordTalk is an award-winning text reader for Microsoft Word developed by Rod Macaulay at TASSCC (Technological Assessment and Support Service for Children and the Curriculum) in Aberdeen and available for free from our mini-site at www.wordtalk.org.uk. WordTalk helps pupils to read books, worksheets and other learning resources in Microsoft Word format and has been downloaded by thousands of people all over the world. Rod has developed a new version of the program with extra facilities, including the ability to create audio MP3 books recorded using the Heather voice.

More information on these projects and the rest of the work of CALL Scotland can be found on our new, improved website:
www.callscotland.org.uk.

Allan Wilson
Information Officer
CALL Scotland

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Journey to Excellence: Improving achievements for blind and partially sighted pupils

Following the success of the Count Us In: Achievement for Deaf Pupils - part of a series of Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS) publications aimed at sharing good practice - there was a request for a similar document for those involved with visually impaired learners.

Christine Knight, HMIe invited Mary Dallas from the RNIB, Elizabeth Horne from The Royal Blind School and Janis Sugden, SSC to form a planning group with the aim of producing and developing a similar resource for the visually impaired. On the 4th December 2008, approximately thirty individuals representing all client groups with an interest in this area were invited to a focus group held at the SSC to contribute to the development of a shared vision of what best supports these children and young people to achieve in their education.

Christine introduced the aim of the project: to support, develop and share good practice. The focus of the day was on inclusion - thinking about all learners - with an emphasis on the development of inclusive establishments. The 10 dimensions of the Curriculum for Excellence were outlined. The group was asked to consider "What do we need to do to develop this?" and "How do we move the journey for excellence from good to great?"

HMIe and LTS are now moving towards an interactive web based development rather than producing documents that tend to lie on a shelf. The group were given a demonstration of how the LTS website is organised.

The focus group were invited to share their ideas with the planning group who will consider them with a view to finding out where 'Excellence' is happening and using this information to produce a resource that is accessible to all.

It is still early in the process so we will keep you informed of new developments.

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Electronic Notetaking in Secondary Schools

notetaking in class

Deaf students require access to a range of communication support suited to their individual needs. There are various methods and strategies used in academic inclusion of deaf students. Methods of support vary greatly between secondary and further education (FE) and higher education (HE). At secondary level, there is widespread use of Teachers of the Deaf (ToDs), Communication Support Workers (CSWs) and subtitled resources. Post-secondary education however tends to offer a different type of support to their clients. CSWs, Interpreters and Electronic Notetakers (ENTs) are regular features in colleges throughout Scotland.

Can Electronic Notetaking (ENT) provide quality linguistic access to the curriculum for deaf pupils at Secondary level?
In order to answer this question a small research project was conducted using electronic text support. A six-week pilot of ENT was conducted in a mainstream S1 science class, which included a deaf student. This subject was selected because science is generally perceived as a difficult subject for deaf students due to lots of new vocabulary, abstract concepts, regular group activities and summative assessments. This year group was chosen because this is the earliest stage in secondary school and so is an interesting comparison against FE and HE students.

The software used in this project was Virtual Network Computing (VNC). It is remote control software which allows you to view and fully interact with one computer desktop (the 'VNC server') using a simple program (the 'VNC viewer') on another computer desktop anywhere on the Internet. It can be downloaded from the Internet. For further details see:

VNC was excellent for this project because it allows two-way communication between teacher and pupil - the pupil can type questions to the teacher, eg; to clarify the meaning of a new word or to ask a question of the teacher which is a useful addition. Once the initial difficulties in acquiring and setting up the two-way communication on the laptops were overcome the system was very straightforward to use. It took time to set up at the beginning of each class and timing was crucial so that information was not missed. I modified the language of the notes whenever I felt it was required, using a readability score as a guide. On average the notes ranged from reading level 9.5-13.5. I was able to modify the language almost intuitively because I was very familiar with the student's level of English. A professionally trained ENT will have learned how to modify written English effectively, which would be crucial when working with younger students, but they may lack the familiarity that is part of a good ToD relationship with their pupil. Conventions were used to identify different speakers during discussions in an attempt to permit the deaf student to follow the communication more closely. Colour was used to identify key vocabulary which proved valuable during tutorial and revision sessions.

I found that ENT provided this pupil with better linguistic access. There was an improvement in his written responses and when questioned his knowledge was more secure. In general he appeared more focussed and on balance asked more questions about this topic than others. He became more involved in the group tasks and his confidence visibly increased. In the end of topic assessment he performed well above his personal average.

Indications from this research suggest that for certain pupils ENT is an effective method of facilitating curricular access. Pupils beginning a Standard Grade course, for example, might benefit considerably from this method. If used throughout the two year course the student would have a complete set of class notes and vocabulary for revision purposes.

There is currently a lack of suitably qualified staff in this area of expertise with about 14 qualified ENTs working in Scotland, none of whom work in schools. If significant evidence could be provided that some deaf pupils would benefit from this service, then this situation may alter in the future.

H Ashley Mckenzie
Teacher of the Deaf
Multi-Sensory Service, Dundee

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Who am I? NDCS Family Weekends

Who Am I? is a new three-year project, supported by The National Lottery through Big Lottery Fund, for all young deaf people aged 13-19 and their parents living in Scotland.

Who Am I? aims to improve young deaf people's self-esteem so they feel comfortable with their deafness and confident about being independent in a hearing world and to encourage parents to feel positive about their child's transition towards independence and be confident in supporting them.
There are two family weekends planned for this year on 13th-15th March and 25th-26th April, 2009

Creative workshops and fun sociable activities will explore young deaf people's experiences, ideas and journeys in accepting their deafness, feeling confident and being independent. Parents will have the opportunity to meet other parents of young deaf people and to share their own experiences of supporting their deaf child. Brothers and sisters are also welcome.

If you would like to get involved in Who Am I? or find out more about it, please contact:

Ingrid Fitzsimons
Who Am I? Project Officer
NDCS Scotland
187-189 Central Chambers
93 Hope Street
Glasgow
G2 6LD

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Establishing a Parents' Group

parents' group

As our Service (Glasgow) prepared for the rollout of the Newborn Hearing Screening Programme (NHSP) in Scotland, our previous Co-ordinator asked me to undertake some modules from the University of Manchester. These related to Early Years (0-2 yrs) and I found this so valuable that I went on to complete the Masters Degree. The course highlighted the support required by families following the diagnosis of a child's hearing loss. Research indicated that parents of young hearing impaired children can be very vulnerable and feel a sense of isolation. The evidence also suggested that meeting other parents, in a similar situation, could help alleviate these feelings and generate a more positive and confident approach to dealing with the issues surrounding their child's hearing impairment.

We discussed this with the parents of our youngest children and followed this by issuing a questionnaire canvassing their views. The results confirmed that parents would value the opportunity to meet with other families on a regular basis and would welcome hearing from speakers giving information on hearing impairment issues.

We soon realised that this would require considerable planning if it were to operate smoothly and a core team of staff began drawing up a list of considerations.

It was decided that the meetings would be held weekly, with a relaxed, informal atmosphere in the hope that this would generate interaction between families and be less threatening for the parents lacking in confidence.

There was some debate about whether speakers should be invited each week or fortnightly. A decision was finally made that fortnightly would leave every second week for more informal activities and workshops run by our staff.

We also realised that although this was a support group for parents, some of these families would wish to bring their children along and that this would require careful thought on our part. We decided that our aim was to target the 0-2 yrs age group for our initial planning. We had to submit proposals for funding for toys and equipment and for transport costs to ensure those families without cars could still access the group.

Our proposal was accepted, although we were required to have a six month pilot project evaluated by Psychological Services. This has involved formal questionnaires being issued by research assistants, both before and after the six month pilot, and analysis of some of the videos we have taken of the children as part of our language assessment.

This part of the process took considerable organisation as we had to introduce the research assistants to the families, and ensure that the videos of the children were all completed at the appropriate times. We were also involved in discussions about the more formal questionnaires which Psychological Services were going to issue.

Another consideration was the benefit that could be derived by giving parents the chance to meet other professionals in this informal setting and so we aimed at an inter-agency approach to the group. This has involved regular input from Speech and Language Therapists and representatives of the West of Scotland Deaf Children's Society. We operate an open door policy and we have been fortunate in having a wide variety of visitors interested in seeing the group and meeting the parents, including the Director of Education for Glasgow.

Our first speaker was the parent of two hearing impaired children; other families clearly enjoyed and empathised with her experiences following a diagnosis of hearing impairment in the family. We have since had several parents of older hearing impaired children along and this aspect of the group has been highly successful. These parents may only come to the group occasionally, and on an informal basis, but the parents of the younger children appreciate the opportunity to ask them questions and be reassured that they are not alone in their current situation. Our invited speakers have also been warmly received and these have included a Paediatric Audiological Physician, a Teacher of the Deaf specialising in Cochlear Implants and representatives from the Library Service amongst many others.

Our own staff have offered a range of activities, from Easter cake making for the toddlers to a variety of workshops for the parents. We have also managed to bring two of our teenage pupils along one week which proved very popular with the parents.

Our age range has shifted from 0-2 yrs, with several 3rd birthdays taking place - birthday cakes and balloons of course! Our own end-of-pilot questionnaire has revealed that the group could be of value to the families of children up to start of school age, and perhaps beyond, as later diagnosis can mean some parents of older children still require that important early support.

One of the nicest aspects of the group is that friendships are being formed between the families and the group really is developing in a very positive way. We are learning as we go on what is effective and what is less popular, in the knowledge that the group will continue to evolve and that we will have to adapt to ensure we are meeting the needs of the families.

Our aim is to continue this session with the hearing impairment group; in January 09 we started a similar group for the parents of visually impaired children. We are looking forward to this new challenge and will take forward the lessons we have learned over the past year.

Evelyn MacMillan
Acting Co-ordinator
Sensory Support Service, Glasgow

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Deaf Course: Promoting Resilience

On the 4th June, 2009 one of the last SSC deaf education courses of the 2008-09 academic session will be held: SSC Course 28: Enabling Young Deaf People to become Confident Individuals (Promoting Resilience). The course will bring together a host of expertise in the area of promoting resilience, under one roof. The day will focus on: what resilience means with respect to deaf children; why it is an important attribute to develop; and discussion of recent research in this area. It will also provide practical strategies and materials which can be used with young deaf people to enable them to be more positive about their abilities and their identity to empower them to become more confident individuals.

Presenters on the day will include:
Dr Tyron Woolfe, National Deaf Children's Society
Brigid Daniel, Professor of Social Work, University of Stirling
Professor Angus Skinner, Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing, Glasgow,
Aisha Reid, Educational Psychologist, West Lothian.

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Deaf Children using Skype

It is difficult for deaf children who use sign language to communicate with other sign language users in other schools. One solution would be the widespread use of video conferencing technology. However, few schools have this technology available to them due to the cost of equipment and set up. Skype, the free Internet telephone service, allows for a video link between the participants when using a webcam. Our aim was to investigate whether this program could be effectively used by deaf children in different schools to communicate with each other through sign. We looked, in particular, at the following issues: ease of setup, consistency of communication through both sound and vision and the quality of the video output for good sign communication. Below is a report from the classroom staff using the link.

After a visit from a deaf pupil and her teacher from Carlogie Primary School we set up a weekly link via Skype between Carlogie and our class of five deaf children at Donaldson's. The children were all really excited about using this and we planned for a video link once a week for the summer term.

Downloading the program from the Skype website was very easy and setting up the webcam, a Logitech Quickcam, was straightforward. We were expecting some problems with downloading the program due to our firewall but all went well.

The most obvious difficulty was the quality of the video which was not always consistent and made reading back the signing difficult at times. We also had some problems with the audio as it didn't always work and some days we would get video and no audio and then other days audio but no video. This problem may have been due to our firewall.

One way of resolving some of the breakdowns in communication, due to these inconsistencies, was the use of a headset with mic which allowed the teachers to communicate with each other and then explain things to the children to help maintain the flow of communication.

One difficulty we did have was finding topics of conversation that could easily be maintained by the children. We found that, since the children didn't know each other very well, the topics of conversation didn't always flow and needed a lot of teacher intervention. This might be improved if the link was part of a wider range of activities involving the two groups or much clearer more defined goals were set for the purpose of the communication, eg; gathering information from groups involved in the same topic or project.

However, despite all the problems, the children have really enjoyed using this technology and it has certainly been a worthwhile activity for all involved. The children are now more confident with the technology and have learnt how to add funny faces to each other using the webcam technology. One significant development is that the children are now using these skills at home to communicate with each other at weekends.

For the future we plan to use this technology again and have used our audiology classes to improve our Skype (video conferencing) skills, for example, making sure that others can always see our signing and waiting until the other person is looking before signing.

Staff involved:
Donaldson's
Kirsty Lochhead (Class Teacher)
Karen Dale (Classroom Assistant)
Joe O'Donnell (Educational Audiologist)

Carlogie Primary School
David McArthur (Class Teacher)
Kim Blackmore (Support for Learning Assistant for Hearing Impaired Pupils)

NB: Skype is a free Internet telephone service which allows video telephone calls via a webcam. For more information and to download the software see:

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Mental Health and Growing Up - BSL Factsheets

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has translated ten of its Mental Health and Growing Up factsheets into British Sign Language (BSL). The new BSL video clips can be freely accessed from the Royal College of Psychiatrists website, and provide practical and up-to-date information about emotional and psychiatric disorders which can affect children and young people.

They are aimed at adults who look after deaf children - especially parents and teachers - and are for young people who may be concerned about themselves or a friend. According to South West London and St George's National Deaf Services, which produced the translations, there is no evidence to suggest there is any greater occurrence of mental illness in the deaf population. There is, however, a significantly greater occurrence of emotional and behavioural problems.

The factsheets now available in BSL are: Coping with stress, Depression in young people, Psychotic illness, Understanding autism, When bad things happen, Drugs and alcohol, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Stimulant medication, Worries and anxiety, Good parenting.

The project was co-ordinated by child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr Andy Holwell and deaf advisor, Herbert Klein, who both work for the National Deaf Services at South West London and St George's Mental Health Trust.

The factsheets were produced and translated into BSL by AC2.com Productions Ltd, which specialises in producing BSL videos. The factsheets are all available from this webpage:

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Moon

moon book

Being in a school for dual sensory impairment presents a wealth of need that is not always addressed by known formal teaching methods. Of particular note are those significantly visually impaired and blind pupils for whom Braille is not a viable option in any format, even large Braille.

In recent years we have successfully introduced Moon to many pupils. Reasons for using Moon are multiple, but one of the main reasons for choosing it is its simplicity. It is an easy code to learn and the clear uncluttered characters are easy to feel and subsequently decipher.

It has been in existence for longer than Braille, but being based purely on a Roman alphabet has been its downfall, in terms of being transposed into other languages. As a result, it was superseded by Braille.

This Moon code is best described as a raised but simplified Roman alphabet, which you can see from the examples here. Moon shapes are predominantly made from straight or curved lines - which most pupils have real life experience of prior to embarking on the formal Moon alphabet. The existence of a Moon font that allows a teacher, after assessment, to create specific materials for individuals has been of great benefit. Often pupils start with a large character which can be easily traced with the finger, reducing as they become familiar with both the method of tracing and the actual character felt. The preference for many pupils has become size 28 in bold typeface. It is not difficult to understand the ease with which a pupil can feel a character of this size as opposed to individual dots in Braille; particularly if they have a hemiparesis or any reduction in fingertip sensitivity.

The use of Moon ranges from being used only to label items for some pupils through to a complete medium in the more complex Grade 2 format for others. Appropriate resources are limited and to address this we are writing our own graded reading system, initially targeting one class in both the primary and secondary. We are producing experiential books starting with information about the pupils themselves in the primary, to books based on places visited in Glasgow for the senior pupils. Real life experiences and objects followed by related activities are the forerunner to the books, as pre-reading experiences vary considerably between pupils. The format and subject matter for each book varies as can be seen in the examples pictured, but further extension work connected specifically to the reading book should follow. These could be word and picture matching, word matching or sentence building, but the content will always match the learning pace of the pupil.

moon books

For senior pupils the books are based on places visited so they can match the experience with the written word. All of these books have text on one side and Moon on the other. They are also graded so those who are slow readers are only expected to read one or two words working alongside a sighted peer or adult, whilst others would read a full Grade 2 Moon transcription of all the text.

To date we are satisfied that Moon is fully addressing a need within a specific learning group: namely the acquisition of literacy for blind and visually impaired pupils.

M Milne
Hazelwood School, Glasgow

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Louis Braille Bicentenary

braille day

As a small token towards the celebrations going on around the world for the 200th Birthday of Louis Braille, the Scottish Sensory Centre marked the occasion with a display of Braille materials on Tuesday, 13th January. We hoped to raise awareness amongst student teachers attending Moray House School of Education.

It was a busy day with all the students newly returned from the Christmas vacation. Many students and some tutors were interested to find out more and we were told that our display had sparked discussion on Visual Impairment within one of the tutorials.

Patricia Fraser from Quantech kindly loaned us some up-to-date technology for our display and Morag Heeps, our Braille Tutor, was on hand to help explain how Braille works, how it is used by visually impaired people and some students even got the chance to try using a Brailler.

soft brailler

On the same day the SSC were running Course 17 on Teaching Braille to Pupils in Mainstream Classrooms. Course participants took advantage of the opportunity to browse our examples of children's books with Braille and tactile elements and the different pieces of equipment on display.

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Outreach Alternative Course Delivery

Do you find it difficult getting away from the classroom to attend SSC courses? The SSC is able to offer some of its courses on an outreach basis such as "What do we mean by Visual Impairment?" (VI Awareness), Mobility training, Early Support Developmental Journal, plus other topics in Deaf Education. Services are invited to contact us with their requirements for in-house training. A set fee can be negotiated with costs for travel and expenses.

E-learning
We are currently investigating moving our online courses from the University's virtual learning environment (VLE) to a web-based format. Further details of this will appear in the next Newsletter. If this project goes ahead, it will not affect the way the courses are organised but will eliminate the need to log into the University's EASE system and then WebCT. There will still be a login for students but because the course will be based on our web server, the delivery should be quicker and smoother.

We are also interested to know what courses you would like to see offered as e-learning. We currently offer our Modifying English course and have provided access to a course by Professor Gordon Dutton in the past. Gordon is keen to collaborate with us in the future with new e-learning opportunities. We hope to trial one course next year with Phonak iLearn on a deafness-related topic.

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VI Scotland Update

Since the last SSC newsletter we have launched our new look website although our address hasn't changed:

  • www.viscotland.org.uk
  • New information is being added daily and a number of features have been developed including our secure Parents Message Board.

    Any parent with a visually impaired child who is notified to v.i.scotland can join the message board which is for sharing information, experiences and advice or just for parents to get in touch with other parents. We are also using the board to let families know about events taking place across Scotland; let us know if you would like to advertise an event.

    Parents who may wish to join V.I.scotland should visit our website. You can now download a notification form directly from the website or you can contact us at the office to request one.

    Until next time ...;

    Dr Jennifer Skillen
    Manager, VI Scotland
    Tel: 0131 651 6078

  • Email: JSkillen@education.ed.ac.uk

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