Special schools and parents have an exciting new free magazine with a world view
Special World magazineSpecial schools and all who work with them get a brand new glossy and interactive publication of their own to download today (September 22), headed by the most experienced UK editor working in UK SEN and inclusion, Mick Archer. And it's free.

The lively first issue of Special World goes out to an already impressive existing circulation of 125,000 people across more than 100 countries, created from the database of its publisher, Inclusive Technology.

What if you can't find a suitable app for your child? Create your own, writes Sal McKeown
SENspeller screenshotSENspeller The Autism Spelling AppMum Penny Vanderplank couldn't find a suitable app for her son, so she created one, created by mum Penny Vanderplank, is a new app for teaching the spelling of a basic vocabulary. It is aimed at young children and all the rewards – the 'well dones', the clapping and cheering – are recordings of children's voices which gives it a head start over many spelling programs.

It comes with ten topic lists: transport, family, animals, body, food, clothes, school, home, toys and colour. Because it is aimed at children with autism, SENspeller has simple black-and-white illustrations so there are no distractions. The child simply drags and drops the letters to build words.

'With iPads and other tablets we have the beginnings of the dream device,' says Martin Littler
iPad  at Woodlawn School, Whitley BayEasy touch: iPad in action at Woodlawn School, Whitley BayiPads are the biggest “big idea” in special needs since the personal computer. I know that I’m supposed to say “tablets” or “mobile technology” – but actually, at the moment, it’s iPads.

iPads are making us think about all aspects of assistive technology and are bringing change at an amazing (or even alarming) rate. We hear of shares in communication aid companies going from more than $25 to less than 10 cents! We hear of special schools buying iPads in dozens. Meanwhile, most companies selling CD-based software into the SEN sector are seeing their sales decimated.

Willetts' cuts hit disabled students and may 'decimate' assistive technology industry, writes John Lamb
Mark McCuskerBATA chair Mark McCuskerSweeping changes to the disabled students allowances (DSAs) which cover the purchase of computers, laptops and specialist equipment and software, as well as the provision of support workers and help with travel costs, will damage prospects for disabled students.

The warning comes from the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) and follows the introduction of the changes by minister for universities and science David Willetts MP, This signals a shift in policy that goes beyond saving money, said Mark McCusker, chair of BATA.

Success keeps on coming for 'SEN Assist'. John Galloway looks at the stories and explains why
Early ShakespeareThey did it again. For the second year running the folk at SEN Assist received an Education Resources Award for its interactive stories, this time for Tales from Shakespeare.

SEN Assist produces those resources where simplicity disguises the degree of thought that has gone into it. It works as a story followed by some straightforward follow-up tasks, but it's actually a carefully structured sequence of activities that have been put together from the perspective of a practising class teacher, Adele Devine, assisted by husband Quentin, an animator and web designer.