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Therapy on hand

Valerie Hall introduces the guidance and gadgets available in the Special Needs Village

Visitors unsure of where to start in the Special Needs Village should head for the National Association for Special Educational Needs (Nasen) stand (SN2) to pick up a special needs route planner and meet Nasen staff, who will be on-hand throughout the show to answer queries. The seminar programme in Theatre B (located in the Special Needs Village), is also well worth checking out, and this year includes presentations on learning through the senses, dyslexia and partnerships with parents.


* Montessori St Nicholas (stand B536) Find out about the Montessori Schools Association, launched recently to promote unity and provide support for Montessori schools nationwide. Montessori helps children reach their maximum learning potential by providing experiences to stimulate their love of discovery.

* St Vincent's School for the Blind and Partially Sighted (stand SN9) The catchment area of this non-maintained special school for blind or partially sighted children includes Cumbria, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Harrow. The stand will be highlighting a range of specialist services and resources.

Communication aids

* Toby Churchill (stand SN54) The manufacturer's new Advocate family of digital-recording communication aids for people with speech disabilities will be highlighted. Speech output and environmental control are provided in a compact device, small and rugged enough for children to handle. It can be configured from 1 to 16 locations and provides 16 minutes of high-quality recording.


* Equals (Stand SN59)

The new package from Equals for pupils with severe learning difficulties comprises 10 self-instructional units on the development of inclusive practices in schools. Also on show are self-teaching packages on communication and managing challenging behaviour suitable for parents and teaching assistants. Equals is also, in association with the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, accrediting its literacy and numeracy units related to the Moving On programme for ages 16-19 and its key stage 4 schemes of work units.

* Listening Books (stand SN53)

Check out Learning Books' new website, which supports the postal audio library service it has provided for 45 years to those with visual impairments. It features the Sound Learning project, which aims to increase the number of educational materials available in audio formats. By clicking an icon at the top of each web page, users can access a recording of its contents. Audio clips and news items can be sampled through a searchable online catalogue. Members can download free resources and will shortly be able to listen to books online.

* Revealweb (stand SN36)

Revealweb, a national database of resources in accessible formats with a complementary register of suppliers, was launched a year ago. Managed by the Royal National Institute for the Blind and National Library for the Blind, new titles have been included from organisations such as North Wales Society for the Blind, which produces audio books in Welsh, Talking Newspapers and Listening Books. Accessible formats for all ability levels include Braille, Moon and audio-described videos.

* Royal National Institute for Deaf People (stand SN1)

Since many ex-RAF personnel have developed noise-induced hearing loss andor tinnitus, the RAF Benevolent Fund has contributed pound;65,000 to help RNID develop its Information and Tinnitus Helplines, a members' information leaflet and a Tinnitus Outreach Pilot Programme. Other services include harnessing internet, mobile, wireless and digital technologies to develop new products.


* Hand Puppets UK (stand SN72)

After 20 years of making traditional soft toys for the craft market, this company (formerly Bedford Bears), is now producing them in bulk as teaching aids for education professionals and therapists working with children. Inspired by Sooty and Sweep, the lifelike and expressive animal puppets promote a trustful relationship between the professional and child. Ergonomically designed to fit adult and children's hands, the puppets can grasp objects or manipulate whiteboard markers, giving the illusion they are actively involved in the learning process. They can be adapted to meet specific needs such as teaching literacy and numeracy; revealing, treating and resolving sensitive or deep-rooted problems, or for speech, play and cognitive-behavioural therapy.

* Speechmark Publishing (stand SN28)

Follow on Mathemagicians, stages 1-5, comprising innovative games to use with primary and special needs pupils, will be demonstrated. Also new is Understanding and Using Spoken Language: Games for 7 to 9 Year Olds, the sequel to Speaking, Listening and Understanding, which won a 2004 Education Resources Award.


* The Dyslexia Institute (stand SN21)

All the accredited and specialist courses in dyslexia and literacy offered by the Institute and by Hornsby International Dyslexia Centre will be featured. They can be followed, says head of training, Jan Townend, by "distance learning or live mode at affordable prices" using "materials and techniques that really work", and include foundation courses, CPD, materials- and topics-based courses.

* Lakeland Educational (stand SN5)

A new range of dry-wipe products will be on display.

The traditionally made jigsaws can be used for syllabification, sentence construction and spellings; the prefix wheel for word beginnings and endings; and the slider for studying phonemes.

* Lexia Software (stand SN20)

Check out three new products to support basic skills development: Lexia Reading Software for reading assessment and tuition of pupils who have fallen behind; Lexia Foundation Reading for ages five to seven; and Lexia Cross Trainer: Visual-Spatial, module one of a series designed to strengthen mental abilities. Students operate a standard video game controller to help improve 22 distinct spatial skills. Subsequent modules will address logic, following instructions, verbal expression and sound imaging.

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