Lines of communication

22nd June 2007 at 01:00
Resources for pupils with reading difficulties should be made available through a network that makes them easier for schools to share, a new report recommends.

Books for All, a study by Moray House researchers on access to curriculum materials for pupils with disabilities that affect reading, found the "availability of books and other resources in braille, large print and audio formats for the relatively small number of blind and partially sighted pupils, while not complete, was good". But the much larger number of pupils with physical disabilities, specific learning difficulties or hearing impairment fared less well.

"These pupils may require, for example, adapted print materials, digital versions that can be accessed by switch or read out by a computer, audio recordings or signed multimedia resources," says the report, published by the Scottish Executive.

The research describes copyright law as "inequitable" because it says materials may be adapted for pupils with visual or physical impairments or a physical difficulty focusing or tracking with their eyes, but not for others with language, dyslexic or hearing difficulties.

Suitable licences should be negotiated to put all print-disabled pupils on an equal footing, the report recommends. It adds: "There are very few accessible resources for print-disabled pupils who are not visually impaired. Commercial items that do exist are more expensive than conventional paper books or accessible versions available for visually impaired students."

The Scottish Accessible Learning Resources Network would, it is envisaged, set up co-ordinated provision of accessible learning materials for about 5,500 pupils whose support needs arise from physical disability or visual impairment. Another 7,000 pupils with specific learning difficulties would also be likely to benefit.

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