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Department for Education Accessible Resources Pilot Project
Accessible Resources Pilot Project
Produced by the Dolphin Inclusive Consortium
Department for Education Accessible Resources Pilot Project
Table of Contents
1.1 The Project Team
1.2 The Dolphin Consortium
3 Executive Summary
3.1 Key messages
3.2 The project
3.3 Key Findings
3.4 Primary Conclusions
3.6 Next Steps
3.7 Additional Comments
4 Case Study: A Community College in North Tyneside
5 The Project
5.2 Existing Practice
6 Evaluation – Pupil Trials
6.2 Impact on pupils – summary statistics
6.3 Using the laptop at school
6.4 Using the laptop at home
6.5 Specialist software and other technologies
6.6 Use of electronic texts with the technology
6.7 Technical Support and Training
6.8 Input from Sensory Support and Special Educational Needs Coordinators................. 49 7 Evaluation - Specialist Producer Trials
7.3 RNIBs distribution and report
8 Evaluation - Production of textbooks
8.1 Approach and guidelines
8.2 Results & feedback
9 Evaluation - project issues and lessons
9.1 Delays due to changes to software
9.2 Difficulties arranging training
9.3 School/college environments
9.4 Technology issues and support
10 Evaluation - Conclusions
11.2 Next Steps
A. Production specification for electronic textbook files
B. List of books produced
C. Sample pages of books produced
D. Draft guidance for school implementation
E. Producing materials that work for everyone
F. Links to useful resources
G. A draft guide to software choices
1 Acknowledgements This project has been undertaken by the Dolphin Inclusive Consortium. We would like to thank all of the following people from inside and outside the Consortium for their significant efforts and support. We have not referenced the schools involved directly within the report for confidentiality reasons, but our biggest thank you goes to the staff, pupils and parents from schools in and around Oldham, North Tyneside and Durham for supporting the project, coping with the difficulties and providing us with the evidence on which this report is based. We would also like to highlight the roles of Kay Wrench and Carol Allen in gaining the support and trust of schools and pupils and making all of this possible, and EA Draffan for wading through the mass of information gathered.
This report has been written by Jim Russell and EA Draffan with support from the team.
1.1 The Project Team Kay Wrench, ACNS Team Leader, Visual and Physical Impairment, Oldham Carol Allen, SEN/ICT Advisor, North Tyneside EA Draffan, University of Southampton (Evaluation) Noel Duffy, Paul Lynch, Simon Kitchen and many more, Dolphin Computer Access (Provision of access technologies, central project services, school support and Maths expertise) Ian Bean and Jamie Munro, Inclusive Technology (Training & technology delivery) Jody Walsh, Emma Parry, Lesley Mohamad and Ben Warren (Book quality control) Vishal IT (Book production) All of our Specialist Producers Jim Russell, Project Manager, RPM Associates
2 Introduction This is the final report for the Accessible Resources Pilot Project. The project was funded by the Department for Education (previously Department for Children, Schools and Families). The Dolphin Inclusive Consortium was specially formed to bid for this work and was awarded the contract in March 2009. The project concluded at the end of December 2010. It was overseen by a Steering Group which was chaired by the Department for Education that included representation from Royal National Institute for Blind People, the British Dyslexia Association, Dyslexia Action, and the Publishers Licensing Society supported by other publishing industry representatives.
The report comprises an extended Executive Summary that can be used to communicate high level results to a wide audience as well as detailed explanation, results and analysis in body of the report. This report and supporting materials will be available from the project web site, www.mytextbook.org until the end of 2011.
“When I am typing stuff when I get a word wrong I'll spell check it - when I get a word I type it in then I use the speaking software to speak it out to see if I got it right and then I make some changes or something like that – it’s weird... I love it. When I am at home I type something out and push enter and my Mum says who is that speaking and I say that's 'my computer'....... I would give it a six - the top - (how easy it is to make use of the computer) I can use it if I want to at any time. I use it for English, PSP RS and History with PowerPoint.” (Dyslexic pupil)
“I have to say what I loved this afternoon was watching the students, the faces, the sheer excitement that they have about having something they can use. J & L are two of our most severe Dyslexic students. Both are statemented and find it really hard to access material and have done so throughout their whole time here. J just said “I can read this” and it was wonderful. To find a child who really does experience difficulty across the curriculum to find something that allows success is great.” (Teacher)
“Children become disabled in their learning through their vision impairment and no child should become disabled because of their disability.....They go into their secondary school behind their peers for the sole reason they have not had the correct input as parents and schools do not know about the options available.
They need alternative formats that are as near to what their friends use as they do not like to feel different - they need to fit in and you can help by producing work that doesn't make them feel there is something terribly wrong with them. If it is on the laptop it has their friends saying - wow that is cool... “ (Parent of Visually Impaired Pupil) “I do my class work on it -- I do my French on it... my handwriting is horrible but on the computer it is nicer. The laptop helps because when it reads out it picks up my spelling mistakes and read them all... it's very helpful... it's really useful.
[marked 6=excellent].” RT said,' Yeah it helps, it helps loads and English I have loads and I just get it to read out. If I do loads and loads of writing it helps. I use it in English and RE... it tells the spelling a little bit.... It makes me feel more confident about doing my work. I'm more confident I'm actually going to get something done. Instead of just sitting there only about reading my own writing and saying listen I just cannot write it, I can just type it up -- it's a lot easier -- I feel I believe in myself more now than what I did -- I just couldn't do it -- it's just much better.” (Dyslexic pupil) “The messages from this project are very clear. Do visually and print impaired pupils benefit from accessing materials electronically? Definitely yes! Should more materials be made available? Definitely yes! Should the access technologies be provided? Definitely yes! So come on everyone, you now need to make it ‘business as usual’ in our schools.” (Jim Russell, Project Manager) Final Project Report, January 2011 Page 5 Department for Education Accessible Resources Pilot Project 3 Executive Summary
3.1 Key messages At present, pupils, teachers and parents all struggle with the lack of textbooks and supporting materials in accessible formats that can be used by pupils with visual or print impairment.
This project was conceived to assess whether the provision of textbooks and teaching materials as electronic files, along with technologies to convert and ‘read’ them, to visually and print impaired pupils and staff in schools and local authorities that support them (‘Specialist Producers’) could provide a new and sustainable model.
The project confirms that making teaching materials available to print and visually impaired pupils in an appropriate electronic form along with access technologies to read them can make a significant difference to their reading, writing, confidence, development and inclusion. The same electronic materials can also provide substantial productivity savings for staff in schools and local authorities who support, in particular, visually impaired pupils.
The project recommends that the majority of English School curriculum materials are made available for print impaired pupils in a cost effective and sustainable way, and that schools receive the guidance and support from technology and service providers to enable their print impaired pupils to fully utilise these resources. This will require a coordinated cross industry effort from a range of stakeholder organisations – schools, local authorities, charitable organisations, publishers, technology and service providers, professionals and government.
In particular, it recommends:
Dissemination of information about the benefits and practicalities of using electronic media and access technologies for school pupils with visual and print impairment. Schools, teachers and parents need to be aware of the benefits to stimulate demand and of the practicalities to be able to take advantage of them. Publishers and technology and service providers need to be aware of how they can develop their products and services to support this emerging market.
A new national textbook and advisory service that will produce electronic files for textbooks, distribute them on request, provide training and support in technologies that enable access to these textbooks and other electronic media, and allow sharing of best practices. This should focus on making many more books available as a priority to achieve an instant impact thereby ensuring the materials are available as schools take up the technology. Books should only be prepared once, thereby generating significant savings in schools and local authorities, and be made available on a chargeable basis.
The systematic provision of electronic files by publishers, preferably in MS Word, to the above service whilst progressing further towards building accessibility into their mainstream educational products. This will significantly reduce the costs of production in the short term and lead to accessibility at source in the long term.
Ongoing standards and technology development. In particular, the challenges of mathematical and scientific formulae need to be solved, and technology providers need to
respond to the educational market with increasingly cost-effective, end-user focused and school environment appropriate solutions.
3.2 The project Laptops with access and conversion technologies and MP3 players were given to 40 pupils aged 11-14 in the north of England. Conversion technologies were also made available to 10 ‘specialist producers’. Staff and pupils were trained in the use of software.
Operating within the terms of a Copyright Licensing Agency VI Licence, 132 textbooks were converted into structured electronic files in MS Word format using a standard specification to help facilitate easy reading and conversion, and these were made available to both schools and specialist producers. This involved setting styles for headings and other content, using a standard 18 point font for standard text, modifying the layout into primarily a linear flow and including image descriptions.
Schools and specialist producers used the technology and materials provided as well as electronic materials already available within the schools from the end of 2009 and throughout 2010, and the impact of this has been evaluated. The textbook files were also made available to RNIB for onward distribution to a wider group of schools and specialist producers, and evidence from RNIB’s report is included below.
3.3 Key Findings The evaluation was led by EA Draffan from the University of Southampton. Questionnaires, face to face interviews with both staff and pupils, and online data captured from information gathered throughout the project were used.
3.3.1 Pupil Trials “I was astounded at how the 11 to 14 year old pupils behaved in the interviews, especially bearing in mind I was an outsider who they had not met before. The body language as well as the words showed what a positive impact using the technology had had on them. They were happy, willing and able to talk about what they had achieved. All pupils interviewed said that they would have been devastated if they had had to give up their laptops at the end of the project (they didn’t!). The impact was so much broader than we had expected, contributing to increased achievement, self-esteem, writing as well as reading and attendance according to those teachers we were able to contact.” EA Draffan, University of Southampton Pupils, with support from staff and trainers, quickly chose the technology and settings that worked best for them and had no problems in accessing a variety of documents including textbooks and school worksheets.
Dyslexic pupils benefited most from using text to speech software, both for reading and writing. The software was able to read MS Word documents and accessible web pages directly.
74% changed the settings on their computers, most changing the font size, the colour background or using highlighting of text as it is read out loud.
Final Project Report, January 2011 Page 7 Department for Education Accessible Resources Pilot Project Visually impaired pupils used conversion, magnification and screen reading, and digital talking book software. They were much more used to using access technologies than those pupils with specific learning difficulties including dyslexia.