One of the nice things about the Special Needs Village at BETT is that you find the most unexpected things. Contraception: The Board Game (pound;39.95) was the first product to catch my eye this year. Information PLUS creates software for young people with social, emotional and behavioural problems, which looks at behaviour, youth crime and sexual attitudes. This is an important addition to the small band of programs that promote decision making.
SEMERC is launching My Modelling Toolkit (pound;39) to give younger pupils a chance to practice problem solving in a safe environment. Pupils can try out a "what if?" approach to such diverse topics as road safety, dressing a baby or making a monster. SEMERC has produced many good products this year including Sound Beginnings (pound;39), a fun program designed to help encourage speech and vocalisation and SpellTrack (pound;39), a new program to teach visual tracking and improve spelling.
There seems to be an interest in gadgets this year too. TAG Learning has two cameras the ClickSmart 820 (pound;149.95), and the 420 (pound;99.95).
These are particularly easy to use and are aimed at the SEN market. Many learners need a portable writing aid and one of the best is the QuickPAD (pound;139) from Keytools which runs for up to 400 hours on four AA batteries. It's virtually foolproof as all text is automatically saved and files are easily transferred into any writing application. Keytools has taken over the Kid Glove (pound;35) range this year and will be showing a keyboard for children with limited vision. It has high-contrast lettering, home-key bumps, enlarged lettering and Braille.
The Wizcom Reading Pen (pound;198.99) on the Scansoft stand, looks like a barcode reader but is a useful reading pen for left and right-handers which will read any printed text. Simply pass it over a line of text and listen as it reads it out. It will also link into a dictionary chip to give definitions.
By and large, consolidation is the name of the game at BETT 2004 in the special needs field. The Dyslexia Institute will be showing the latest version of Units-of-Sound (pound;90) which incorporates dictation sentences and visual memory exercises. CALSC - Communication and Learning Skills Centre - has produced 4,000 free spelling media files for users of their program Time to Revise (pound;65). Don Johnston will be launching new age-appropriate reading materials for older learners. These will be multimedia books produced at three levels and will include non-fiction topics such as sport and environmental issues.
Crick is bringing out Wordbar v2 (pound;60). Like Clicker (pound;90), it offers point and click access to banks of words and phrases to support writing but unlike Clicker, this is a product for grown-ups and not just for the primary school. It works well with the Tablet PC and should be top of the shopping list for anyone working with older learners.
Apart from the main show, there are two fringes. One is organised by the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (Becta) and features seminars on SEN management issues, communication aids and resources. Then there's the other SEN fringe at the Hilton next door. This is the place to find out about specialist assistive technology and offers seminars, free refreshments and a chance to meet some of the CAP suppliers.
This fringe will be showcasing lots of new cause-and-effect software as well as The TechTalk (pound;299) environmental control unit which will manage four mains appliances via radio waves. Inclusive is also distributing Special Needs ICT Training Directory which covers training and information for those working with pupils with severe and complex special needs.
If you only look at three things...
Memory Booster (pound;TBA) aims to help children aged 4 to 16 develop memory strategies.
Lucid Stand SN74 Tel: 01482 882121 www.lucid-research.com
TaskMaster Authoring Software (pound;79) lets teachers to create a whole suite of activities.
MDLSoft SW82 Tel: 01430 873 496 www.mdlsoft.co.uk
Communicate: In Print (pound;69) is a DTP package which can be used to make display materials.
Widgit SN10 and Hilton Tel: 01223 425 558 www.widgit.com
CALSC SN41 Tel: 020 8642 4663 www.calsc.co.uk
Crick SN14 Tel: 01604 671691 www.cricksoft.comuk Don Johnston SN112 Tel: 01925 241642 www.donjohnston.com
Dyslexia Institute SN51 Tel: 01784 222 300 www.dyslexia-inst.org.uk Inclusive Technology BETT Fringe - Hilton Hotel Tel. 01457 819790 www.inclusive.co.uk
Information PLUS SN55 Tel: 01856 761 334 www.information-plus.co.uk Keytools SN60 Tel: 023 8058 4314 www.keytools.com SEMERC E40 Tel: 0161 827 2927 www.semerc.com
TAG Learning F50 Tel: 01474 537886 www.taglearning.com Scansoft Y90 Tel: 0118 963 7464 www.scansoft.com