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Assessing the provision of ICT for Inclusion: Cognitive and learning difficulties 5 in a set of 8

A guide to identifying ICT provision to help pupils with cognitive and learning difficulties
Some pupils will have general learning difficulties that range from moderate to severe or profound learning difficulties. Others will have specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia and dyspraxia. They may also have physical or sensory impairments, autistic spectrum disorders or behavioural difficulties.

Does the pupil's difficulty lie in spoken or written communication?
Look at the section on ICT provision for helping pupils with communication and interaction difficulties.

Does the difficulty lie in reading?
If the reading difficulty is a result of a physical or sensory impairment, look at the section on ICT provision to help pupils with sensory or physical needs. Unsupported text may not be an appropriate means of written communication for pupils with additional learning difficulties, particularly if those difficulties are severe or profound. For information on ICT that supports the use of symbols, look at the section ‘Where can I find out more?’ below. A symbol processor is software that links symbols to words as they are typed, thus enabling a teacher to prepare reading materials with symbol-supported text. An overlay keyboard or an on-screen grid, prepared with appropriate symbol-supported text for the task, will enable learners themselves to write. A portable or desktop computer with text-to-speech facility will give aural support by reading back either all the text or just selected words.

Does the difficulty lie in accessing the computer?
For many learners with severe or profound learning difficulties, the usual input methods of standard keyboard and mouse will not be appropriate and alternative methods will be needed. Consider the use of the following devices. • Touch screen This gives a more direct method of access. Special software transfers the mouse action to the membrane of the touch screen so that the learner can control the activities by touching the screen. Tracker ball This is often easier to use than a mouse for pupils with learning difficulties. The tracker ball unit remains stationary while moving the ball on its surface controls the movement of the cursor. Overlay keyboard This can be used as an input device by restricting the choices offered on the overlay to those required by the activity. Switch By pressing a switch attached to the computer, learners can control what is shown on the screen, turning sounds on and off or changing pictures. In doing so, they are gaining experience of cause and effect.

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© Becta 2002

http://www.ictadvice.org.uk published March 2002

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Becta | ict advice | timesaver | Assessing the provision of ICT for Inclusion: Cognitive and learning difficulties

Where can I find out more?
An introduction to symbols from the ACE Centre Advisory Trust [http://www.ace-centre.org.uk/html/resources/symbols/res02.html] Communication – symbols: introduction for SEN This document gives an overview of symbol systems used. [http://curriculum.becta.org.uk/docserver.php?docid=994] Dyslexia, learning difficulties and voice-recognition systems fact sheets These sheets can be downloaded from the Abilitynet web site. [http://www.abilitynet.co.uk/content/factsheets/Factsheets.htm] Canterbury College, Christchurch, Xplanatory web site This site has information about approaches to teaching pupils with learning difficulties [http://www.canterbury.ac.uk/xplanatory/approach/ld.htm]. Planning, teaching and assessing the curriculum for pupils with learning difficulties This publication is available from QCA [http://www.nc.uk.net/ld/]. British Dyslexia Association (BDA) The BDA provides information on using speech recognition and screen readers [http://www.bda-dyslexia.org.uk/d08cmptr/c09talk.htm]. Speech-recognition systems, an introduction An information sheet is available from Becta [http://www.becta.org.uk/technology/infosheets/html/speechrec.html]. Symbol Forum This is an on-line area where symbol users can exchange ideas and share work. [http://www.widgit.com/html/forum/forum_index.htm] Using symbols Ways in which symbols are being used to support learning can be found on the Becta web site [http://curriculum.becta.org.uk/docserver.php?docid=936].
Special note This guide identifies particular ICT approaches and provision that you may consider using to support pupils’ individual needs. It follows the conventions introduced in the Code of Practice for SEN. The information should be used only as general guidance, since many pupils are likely to need specific solutions to meet their individual needs. Where pupils have particular disabilities or complex special educational needs, an expert assessment should be sought. Owing to the inter-linked nature of pupils’ needs, you will be referred to other guides in this series for further information.

See also the Becta ICT information sheets on: Learning difficulties and ICT Dyslexia and ICT