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General Chat Thread, Urgent: Do you work in special school in General; Urgent request for anyone work in special school. I need to know what specialist ICT do you have in place? ...
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    russdev's Avatar
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    Urgent: Do you work in special school

    Urgent request for anyone work in special school. I need to know what specialist ICT do you have in place?

    cheers

    Russell

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    In what way does the school have to be special?

    We have a high number of "Free School Meals" students here, and we also have a dedicated Visual imparement department that I believe caters for up to 12 students.

    They have a TA/support worker with them for many normal lessons, as well as 1to1 tuition, and most of the rooms now have a VI screen added to them, for those who cannot focus on a whiteboard/at distance, as well as Visualisers in all rooms.

    For ICT, they have a large screen set to run at lower resolutions with enlarged fonts and a high vis cursor set. This year we also pushed out iTalc, for remote viewing of computers and classroom management, but primarily for VI children to view the teachers work on their own screen.

    There is also for their use a digital magnifying glass thingy, and one child has a laptop with a special webcam and controls built into it, which she uses for zooming in on classroom demonstrations etc, again due to being unable to focus at a distance.

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    russdev (26th January 2011)

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    soveryapt's Avatar
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    In what terms? I work in an SEN School for Cognitive and Learning, but will be becoming a GLD School in September.

    Basically, we get in place things if the child requires them, but where possible try to use standard kit as, personally, we feel it's better to use the standard kit as far as it possible then introduce other kit as and when we need it.

    So, for instance, we have a hand held digital magnifier, a desktop magnifier, large type / key keyboards and a couple of track balls knocking about, but pretty much everything else is standard kit. We did have a couple of old touch screens, and we may get some new ones if they are found to be needed in the new school setup, but generally with the use of whiteboards and projectors, the staff and children work well on those.

    One thing you'll probably find (or certainly should find) is that if a child has a real requirement for a particular piece of kit, this will be supplied through other channels.

    Now, obviously, you can go completely the other way and buy all the fancy kit from the various SEN ICT suppliers that are out there, but I believe you need to think real world applications, so if it's a severe condition, then the use of eye / mouth switches might be fantastic (see Hawkins set up) and communicators and the like, but for the less severe, try and get by with standard stuff.

    If you want to know more about specialist IT kit that's out there, a company I used to work for has a member centre in your neck of the woods (assuming the Leicestershire thing is true .. lol) which you can find details about here Independent Living Exhibition in LEICESTER - www.assist-uk.org. They offer all sorts of advice and might be able to give you a run down of suitable kit if you have particular needs that you're investigating for.

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    russdev (26th January 2011)

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    Mr.Ben's Avatar
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    Hi Russ, we are a CLD Special School with a specilisim in Autism as well, although we tend to have a full spectrum of needs. We have a full age range (5-19)

    We have: Height adjustable Smart boards in all of our secondary classes (and a smart board in every room)

    A couple of touch screens.
    A couple of big tracks.
    A couple of iPads.
    Lots of lower case big keyed keyboards.
    We also have a sensory room, although it's quite old and will need replacing soon.

    And apart from that everything else hardware is pretty standard - the Smartboards offer a suitable interaction method for most students.

    In terms of Software we use a large range:

    Lots of 2Simple programs
    Comic Life
    Widgit Communicate in Print 2
    BSquared Assessment
    Education City
    Espresso

    And again apart from that a lot of stuff is quite standard - although perhaps sometimes used for students of an older age.

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    russdev (26th January 2011)

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    russdev's Avatar
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    I said special school as school has students with severe learning needs and that is what they are but all information is useful.

    Russell

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    Special School with PMLD, SLD and autistic pupils:

    Lots of Switches and BigMack switches
    Touchscreen LCD's
    Smartboards in classrooms
    Portable Interactive Plasma screen
    Coloured keyboards - with lowercase lettering
    Couple Wireless trackballs
    Interactive Photoalbums
    Switch controlled MP3 player - just trying them
    Sensory room - like Mr Ben could do with a refurb
    Optimusic system - but that got destroyed
    Used to have some soundbeam stuff - but again it got broken.

    Where possible they use "normal" kit - specialist ICT is very expensive. We tried mercury switch stuff but that never really took off.

    Software similar to Mr.Ben with some more switch based software and the Sherston "mega" bundle.
    Last edited by andy_b; 26th January 2011 at 05:29 PM.

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    russdev (26th January 2011)

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    One of the schools I provide support for is a SEN school, they have a range of children with varying needs (there are students who have visual impairments, severe learning difficulties etc.) but in terms of specialist ICT there's not a great deal, at least in terms of hardware. They have some Panasonic touch-screen TVs that can be connected to a computer, some switch boxes and big, colourful clicky buttons (I think they're part of the Crick USB Keys package) and large keyboard with overlays. There are also some trackball-style things down there although I'm not 100% sure that they get used as much these days.

    Software-wise, they use a lot of software from Inclusive Technology, in the Switch It! and Touch! ranges, as well as Espresso. Aside from that though, a large amount of the software is the kind that we have in the primary school section of the academy I work in, like the Black Cat stuff, How We Used To Live, Oxford Reading Tree etc.

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    russdev (26th January 2011)

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    Smartboards
    A touch screen
    Switches
    Large coloured lowercase keyboards
    Trackball type mice
    Sensory room
    Voice recorder
    And have recently purchased a number of iPads
    Most SLD equipment sourced from inclusive technology

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    russdev (26th January 2011)

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    nephilim's Avatar
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    We have a "learning workshop" which caters for approximately 30 students at a time. Within this unit, we have a visualisers for the children, dedicated laptops for them to work with, and dragon natural speech software for the visually impaired children.

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    I work in a special school with students at 11 - 19. As others have said, standard kit supplemented with a range of inclusive technologies to enable more independent learning.

    Equipment includes:
    touchscreens
    arrange of different switches / switch activated equipment
    communication aids
    light stimulation equipment
    sound beam
    interactive floor (OMi Vista)
    visualisers
    height adjustable interactive plasma displays (more accessible for some students in wheelchairs, although we do have some height adjustable SmartBoards)
    Also just purchased some Skoog's

    Then a range of software that can be used with either switches or touch screens (some of the software is very basic cause and effect).
    Due to the limited market for specialist equipment / software, special schools are faced with paying often ridiculous amounts of money for something that is very basic, but unfortunately essential in order to give all students equal access to the curriculum.
    Last edited by pavlovs_dog; 27th January 2011 at 09:31 AM.

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    SimpleSi's Avatar
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    Only specialist ICT (beyond big keyboards/big fonts) is I setup UltraVNC Server on class teacher computer for visually challenged pupils to view via VNC client on a laptop.

    Simon

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    korifugi's Avatar
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    One of my sites is a SEN school - we have/make use of:

    3 Height adjustable touchscreen plasmas (one of which can be put into 'table' mode),
    LOTS of BigMack/LittleMack switches (and attendant sensory outputs),
    A sensory suite,
    Most of the TFTs are touchscreens,
    The remaining CRTs are all touchscreen,
    Lower case keyboards,
    Intellikeys input devices,
    A few 'psudo games consoles' that allow the kids to play games like columns.

    We also use a couple of Nintendo Wiis with two balance boards and even a specialist excercise bike controller.

    Software wise there is:

    Bsquared,
    Widgit 2000 / Writing with symbols
    A number of the well known of 'Sherston packages'.

    Most of the software we use however, is actually from two different companies...

    Inclusive Technology Ltd make a huge amount of software that works very well with single/multiple switches, lots of big bright colours and loud sounds.

    and Crick Software which also comes with a huge amount of choice with visual aids etc, etc.

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    Mr.Ben's Avatar
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    To add to my list -

    We also have a couple of visulisers and 1 working soundbeam (made from 2 broken ones!)

    We used to have lots of switches but these have generally been removed as we don't have much software that supports them.

    It is how you use it. For instance, students with sight difficulties will watch the teachers screen rather than the iwb when the teacher is demonstrating something, as it is easier for them to see. We are also looking at getting some screen filters to help stop glare (we use Neovo monitors as they are very sturdy, but the optical glass can make them difficult to read under certain conditions).

    Along with this using cream backgrounds rather than white and certain fonts helps some students, and I haven't removed access to the accesibility tools (I did in my previous secondary) - it's just how you apply the equipment and software with proactive strategies to help students.

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    mattx's Avatar
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    I don't work in a special school but I work with lots of 'special' teachers. Does that help ?

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    dwhyte85 (27th January 2011)

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    Pottsey's Avatar
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    My current special school doesn’t really use much as its more behaviour problems here. My last special school used a wide collection of bits from Inclusive Technology - All the Help You Need

    Many years ago I was a member of a switch clinic were we came up with ways for disabled children to access computers and the world around them. We assessed children and provided equipment. Now I am most likely a little rusty bit if it helps feel free to PM me a few more details and I will see what I can come up with.

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