John Galloway on a new tool to help teachers with quick resources creation
Screen Matrix MakerA quick and easy way to create classroom resourcesNo 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.

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

AMDiInnovative iPad case for SEN from 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.

Cate and Tina DetheridgeCate and Tina Detheridge: 'We're back'The future of one of the UK's oldest special needs brands, Widgit Software, has finally been secured following a round of bidding for the assets of parent company Logotron.

While liquidators Begbies Traynor will not issue a statement until the disposal of all Logotron assets is finalised, it is understood that a consortium which includes the originial Widgit founders, the Detheridge family, and Terry Johnson, former partner in the successful US symbol company Mayer-Johnson, has signed a contract for the Widgit brand and assets.

Communication aids are crucial tools in special needs education. John Galloway reviews a welcome newcomer – Smooth Talker
Smooth TalkerThe Smooth Talker: clarity and versatilityAs 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.

Crunch time for veteran education brands as bidding closes for Logotron assets
The fate of one of the UK's oldest and most respected special-needs ICT brands, Widget Software, could be decided this week. The closing deadline for bids for the assets of Logotron Ltd, which include the world renowned creator of the Widgit Symbols set for literacy and inclusion, passed at midday on Wednesday August 31.

Liquidator Begbies Traynor, the commpany handling the sale to maximise the value of the assets to distribute funds (minus costs) to Logotron creditors, says: “The most desirable outcome would be that all three divisions are sold to purchasers who will keep the businesses going, preserve the supply chain and save some jobs.”