As the blocks come off technology in exams, Sal McKeown reckons Dragon NaturallySpeaking 12 is ready

Dragon NaturallySpeakinAnywhere anytime dictation: Dragon styleI was a very early adopter of voice recognition. I used it for the first time some 15 years ago to help a student whose dissertation had disappeared from her hard disc. I dictated 3,000 words from a tatty print-out and I could not believe how accurate it was.

I was a convert and demoed it to various groups around the country. I have to say that it worked better in my kitchen than in exhibition halls or training suites and I never achieved that same level of accuracy in public that I enjoyed at home. Having just tried the latest version of Dragon NaturallySpeaking, published by Nuance, I suspect it has become more robust and will travel better.

BATA chair Mark McClusker hails ICT's official exam debut, and the push for inclusion for World Book Day
ExamExams: digital support is at handGood news for students with special educational needs (SEN) that use literacy software in the classroom! A recent change in the regulations by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ), means that literacy software can now be used in exams to support students with reading difficulties such as dyslexia. These tools can level the playing field with non-dyslexic candidates and it is vital that schools – and students – are aware that this change has been made and that support is available to them.

This is a welcome development and stems from the Coalition Government’s determination to make exams harder by phasing out coursework and modular learning in favour of traditional end-of-year exams which come into effect in 2015.

MPP photoYoung people 'have a strong voice, and important messages to deliver, and should not be ignored'

The frisson between educators and 'vulnerable' youth can be productive. Tony Parkin reports from 'Munch Poke, Ping'

A lively group of teenage students are on the train with their teacher. Someone sitting opposite asks "Which school are you from?" "The Bridge Academy," they proudly reply. "Oh, and what is your specialism?" is the educationally-informed stranger’s follow-up question. They giggle, and look at one another... "Bad behaviour," one of them replies.

The Munch, Poke, Ping Conference explored the implications of the mobile internet for helping young, vulnerable people, such as the Bridge Academy students and others in pupil referral units (PRUs), to develop their online resilience.

Shadow minister warns of SEN 'race to bottom' and BBC expert calls for accessibility for all new technology
Sharon Hodgson, Nadia ClarkeSharon Hodgson MP with her guest at BATA, Nadia Clarke who works with the Centre for Welfare ReformThe potential gains held out to learners with special educational needs in the Government's Green Paper could be dashed by failure to tighten legislation, warned shadow schools and families minister Sharon Hodgson MP at the annual meeting of the British Assistive Technology Association (BATA) last week.

And the BBC’s disability correspondent Peter White amplified that warning, saying that benefits gained by people with special needs were always vulnerable without strong safeguards. It was now time, he added, for fresh legislation to ensure that all new technologies are designed with SEN and inclusion in mind.

Jackie Hewitt MainJackie Hewitt Main outside Chelmsford PrisonSal McKeown on a project bringing literacy where it's most needed – in jail
Swedish literacy software Lexion is playing a large part in an innovative prison education project. The software has been used to assess prisoners in Chelmsford prison and to provide them with a series of carefully graduated activities to help improve their basic skills.

Frank, aged 67, has spent much of his life in prison but for the first time he is able to send letters home and, more important, he can read the replies. These achievements are recognised in a new report, Dyslexia Behind Bars.