Using switches for the first time? Hilary Norton looks at two sources of help
Cover If children are beginning to use switches in your classroom, there are two new products that will prove invaluable.

The first, Learning Journeys: Switch Progression Road Map, is a booklet (free to download) to support the teacher in assessing children’s capabilities, setting targets for them and teaching the skills that they need to access communication and learning. The second is Switch Skills Champions software, also from Inclusive Technology, which offers the learners exciting games that take them through various levels of switch use starting with very simple exercises for beginners.

John Galloway reviews two literacy tools that work with your regular software programs
WordqWordq and Speakq are a pair of tools designed to 'sit' on top of any open application to help users cope with text – both by making it easier to write, and by reading it out.

Designed "for struggling writers", there may be nothing particularly innovative about either of them individually; what is new is that they work together.

The disruption from policy changes and rampant technology advances presents a unique challenge for the UK's special needs community, says Martin Littler

AMDi“We have just bought 40 iPads – what can we do with them?” came as a surprise question from the special school head. At Inclusive Technology we have had many similar queries since, and our American company, Inclusive TLC, hears the same from school boards in the States.

The iPad has probably had as much impact on educational ICT spending as school budget cuts or the strangulation of local authority SEN services by Academies and Free Schools. But between them these three phenomena have caused a 'perfect storm' for assistive technology companies.

John Galloway on a new tool to help teachers with quick resources creation
Screen Matrix MakerNo prizes for guessing what Inclusive Technology's new Matrix Maker does. But there might be one for working out how many 'matrices' are on offer to schools. A term that's used loosely, it covers everything from communication grids, to certificates, matching games, worksheets – even game boards like Ludo. What they have in common is that each involves some kind of grid, usually combining text, graphics, and, sometimes, symbols too.

The point is to give staff a way of making creative, effective, resources quickly and easily. Matrix Maker does this by providing numerous templates, along with a library of graphics, another one of symbols (more than 15,000 in all), and tools to add text.

Communication aids are crucial tools in special needs education. John Galloway reviews a welcome newcomer – Smooth Talker
Smooth TalkerAs a simple communication aid the new Smooth Talker, from Inclusive Technology, is a welcome development in two ways. For a start there is the sound quality, which is less muffled than its predecessors, providing a crispness and clarity that will make expression and understanding easier. Then there's its versatility.

Devices such as this have been with us for a while. The Big Mac, for instance, offers a quick and simple way for an adult to record a message that a child can replay with one press of the button. This works well for those who are non-verbal, so they can join in activities – registration for instance. A quick "Here, miss," or "Good afternoon, everyone," and the pupil with a speech disability is put on the same footing as the rest of the class.