9th February 2001 at 00:00
INTERNET FOR ALL. By David Banes and Richard Walter. David Fulton pound;14. LEARNING TO USE THE INTERNET. By Gwyneth and Helen Windsor. Heinemann pound;16.99 (single user PC CD-Rom)

The authors of Internet for All are responsible for the award-winning website of Meldreth Manor school for pupils with cerebral palsy and severe or profound multiple learning difficulties.

Their commitment to the belief that such children will find the web exciting, useful and educational is the source of this well-presented 108-page A4 booklet. Though the target audience is the whole range of teachers of students with special educational needs, in practice its greatest appeal will be to educators who already have some appreciation of the technicalities of modern communications technology and the associated computer programming. For these people, the sections reviewing and assessing available applications from the point of view of a disabled user will be particularly valuable.

The booklet's focus on designing accessible websites will have particular resonance for teachers of children with physical or perceptual difficulties.

Ten years after the inception of the web, many sites are still flashy, inelegant triumphs ofform over content that leave the ordinary user confused or frustrated. This book is a valuable contribution to the discussion about how to make computer interfaces easy enough for everyone.

The new CD-Rom from Heinemann also pitches at a very broad audience - "any student wanting to gain skills in the latest technology". It aims, more specifically, to cover the syllabus of the OCR's Internet Technology Stage 1 and the AQA's Using the Internet and Web Page Design Level 2 awards and to be useful to key stage 4 pupils working on ICT short courses.

The CD-Rom appears to run successfully on any Windows 3.1, 95 or 98 PC (without password protection software). It features a small set of basic utilities and template documents as well as a collection of web addresses which can be used directly within practical activities such as setting up a web-based email account or publishing a web page.

Although some of the links and the more detailed information will date rapidly, this element of interactivity is a real improvement on a conventional illustrated text. A worthwhile resource with a variety of uses.

Richard Choat is head of mathematics and ICT at the Centre PRU in south-east London

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