Handy Book App for Android tablets and phones

On the Helpline we have just been alerted to this new product.The product information says,

“Handy Book is an eBook reader that has been designed especially for people with dyslexia and poor sight. Handy Book makes reading easier, less tiring and more enjoyable. You can download a free demo or pay £4.95 for the full licence. This may be refundable if you are eligible for one of the Government schemes mentioned below.

Handy Book has a simple interface allowing you to easily change the background colour, font style and size of text. It also has a highlighter bar that helps you focus on one line at a time.

Many dyslexics struggle with identifying words so Handy Book features a simple dictionary that allows you to select a word and see the definition. Handy Book can also read the definition out loud.

HandyBook supports ePub and FB2 eBook formats. Books can be easily downloaded from third-party eBook websites using Handy Book’s built-in bookshop. Many classic titles such as Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes are available for free.

Handy Book also allows you to view your own documents in DOC, RTF and plain text formats.

During trials at a UK secondary school, Handy Book was tested with a group of dyslexic children from years 7 to 11. The group as a whole showed an improvement of between 16% to 650% in the amount that was being read and a 50 – 300% improvement in the level and time of focus for reading.

“In conclusion, the Handy Book reading app has proven to significantly improve the way students who struggle with one or several aspects of reading actually read. All of the students showed a significant percentage increase in the amount that was read throughout the individual students reading sessions.” – Miss E. Wakely, Senior Dyslexia Tutor

Now get HandyBook for free! If you live in the UK and are registered as having dyslexia you may be eligible to reclaim the cost of HandyBook and an Android tablet using one of the following government schemes:-

Access To Work – for employers of registered dyslexic employees to reclaim the costs of anything that helps them to perform their job. Seehttps://www.gov.uk/access-to-work

Disabled Student Allowance – to help dyslexic students reclaim the cost of anything that helps with their education. See https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas

Please contact us if you require any more information about how these scheme can help you.”

Plans for an English Baccalaureate Certificate dropped

Jean Hutchins posted this on BDA forum:

Plans to end GCSEs in key subjects in England and replace them with an English Baccalaureate Certificate are set to be scrapped by ministers.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21363396 >

The Daily Telegraph also has it, and there have been 388 comments already!

So no English Baccalaureate or only one exam board for each subject, but:
Under new plans, GCSEs will be overhauled with a focus on longer essay-style questions, traditional end-of-course exams, curbs on coursework and “extension papers” for the brightest pupils in maths and science.

Government consultation on Fulfilling Potential

Jean Hutchins has drawn our attention to this latest initiative.

Individuals can respond.
The announcement is at:

All credit to the Office for Disability Issues for making available a
range of formats:
a summary on YouTube, a pdf (with good bookmarks), an easy read pdf,
sign language, the document split into 11 audio files and a facilitation
guide (and there was some funding available for meetings and
communication up to 20 January).

There is an on-line response form.

Initial Teacher Training Campaign

The BDA has launched a campaign and would like your help. Please read the following information which can also be found on their website www.bdadyslexia.org.uk

‘One in ten people have dyslexia and many of these go undiagnosed and unrecognised. Often this is because teachers lack the skills to identify and support children who are dyslexic and need to be diagnosed or given extra support. To help this a government report (The Rose Review (2009)) recommended that Initial Teacher Training (ITT) should include Dyslexia/SpLD. However, there is currently no mandatory minimum level of Dyslexia/SpLD training that the Initial Teacher Training course providers must deliver.

The BDA is campaigning to remedy this. In order to do this we have set up a petition on the government petition website stating that there should be a compulsory module on Dyslexia. If this petition reaches 100,000 signatures then this issue will be debated in the House of Commons.

The petition only runs for a year so every signature counts, your signature could make a difference enabling teacher to help hundreds of thousands of dyslexic pupils. We believe that dyslexic children have just as much of a right to education by teachers that understand them and their condition as any other child.

We hope that you feel the same, if you do then please take a moment to sign our petition athttp://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20674

Many thanks for your help in supporting our cause’.



How do I sign the petition?

We understand that sometimes these petitions can be confusing so we’ve designed a handy step-by-step guide to help you.

1) Enter the following address into the address bar http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20674 at the top of your web browser.
2) Click the purple “sign this petition” button.
3) Fill in your details; name, address, email address etc. The purpose of this information is to verify that you’re a real person and only signing the petition once.
4) Fill in the reCapticha box with whatever words you see displayed in the box. Again, this is to prove that you’re a human being and not a computer program generating false signatures.
5) Check the “agree to terms and conditions” box.
6) Click the purple “sign this petition” box.
7) You’ll now receive an email asking you to confirm that you did indeed sign the petition.

Congratuations, you’ve now completed all the steps to sign our petition!

Thank you very much.


The Future of Special Educational Needs?

On 9th March 2011,Children’s Minister Sarah Teather unveiled proposals which would mean the biggest programme of reform in the education and health support for children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities in 30 years.
Why do things need to change?
 parents find themselves having to battle their way through the current system in order to get the support they believe their child needs. This can be very frustrating.
 this often develops into an adversarial assessment process with the local authority providing the assessments and the funding needed for support
 SEN statements do not join up the education, health and care support for the child
 multiple assessments from different providers often lead to delays in getting support
 too many children are being identified with SEN. In recent years the proportion of children with SEN but without statements has nearly doubled – from 10 per cent of all pupils in 1995 to 18.2 per cent or 1.5 million children in 2010. If you include the 2.7% who have Statements, that’s 1 in 5 children in this country identified as having SEN. (source Dept of Education)
The ideas set out in the Green Paper have been informed by the views and expertise of families, teachers, local authorities, health professionals and national and local organisations working with them.
What are the aims of the Green Paper?
 high quality early identification and intervention for all children where they need it, such as the health and development review for children aged between 2 and 2½ years.
 to ensure assessment and plans run from birth to 25 years old – this will cover the awkward transition from teenage years to early adult working life.
 replace School Action & School Action Plus categories of SEN with a single Early Years setting-based category and school-based category of SEN;
 a new single assessment process and ‘Education, Health and Care Plan’ by 2014; health and social services is included in the package of support, along with education. This will replace the Statementing process but will provide the same statutory protection to parents as the statement of SEN and will include a commitment from all parties to provide their services. There is an aim to reduce the time it takes to complete this process and if there is disagreement between the Local Authority and the parents then it is hoped that the matter can be settled through mediation rather than Tribunal.
 overhaul teacher training and professional development to better help pupils with special educational needs and to raise their attainment
 local authorities and other services will set out a local offer of all services available; this will be ‘easy to understand’.
 the option of a personal budget by 2014 for all families with children with a statement of SEN or a new Education, Health and Care Plan; Key workers will be trained to advise families and help them navigate the range of help available across health, education and social care.
 give parents a real choice of school, either a mainstream or special school; they will remove the current bias towards inclusion. Preferences will be met “unless the choice would not meet the needs of the child, be incompatible with the efficient education of other children, or be an inefficient use of resources.”
 introduce greater independence to the assessment of children’s needs. There is mention of targeted funding to voluntary and community sector organisations that have a strong track record of delivering high quality services relating to assessment and support.
The 4 month consultation which began on 9 March will run to 30 June 2011. A period of testing proposals in local areas will commence in September 2011. Detailed plans should emerge the end of the year, and will form the basis for any necessary legislative changes to be taken forward from May 2012 at the earliest.

What has been the response so far?
The BDA has welcomed measures to enable earlier assessment of children, but is deeply concerned at the present severe cuts to Local Authority special educational needs teaching and assessment personnel and the impact this will have on delivery of services to Dyslexic pupils.

The BDA has welcomed the increased collaboration between health, education and social care as well as suggestions for improved transparency and parental choice. The increased participation of the voluntary and charitable sector they also welcome although funding for the latter will be a crucial issue.

This is of necessity only a brief summary of the Green Paper. Full details can be found at http://www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/sen/a0075339/sengreenpaper
A head teacher quoted in the Green Paper says: “If I want to go somewhere I’ve never been before in my car – I get a map. A good map shows all the routes and the landscapes and the options. Where is the map for families to use if their child is identified with SEN? Here is our chance to create a map – one that all people can understand – using common language and well explained assessments.”
Barbara Lowe May 2011


Altformat.org logowww.altformat.org is a large and detailed website focusing on how
developments in the production of alternative format materials can transform
the education of visually impaired and dyslexic students of all ages.
Campaigning for the right to alternative formats.
Leading the campaign is Sir Steve Redgrave CBE. He is dyslexic and has a
dyslexic daughter. He states:
Parents and the media would be up in arms if fully sighted pupils were expected
to study & learn, but the school/college couldn’t get hold of the books and
resources that were central to the curriculum. This is what many dyslexic and
visually impaired students are expected to cope with on a daily basis.
Altformat.org aims to:
• Highlight the benefits and improvements that print impaired students
achieve with access to their learning materials in the format of their
choice. Software programs exist to convert text into alternative formats
such as audio that plays back on an MP3 player. Software also exists
that can create digital books that can play synchronised audio and text
that allows the reader to steer through the text going from page to page
or chapter to chapter. You can tell the books where you want to go and it
will speak the sentence or page to you.
• Make students aware of the available software (New research reveals
that almost 90% of dyslexic school goers don’t know about the existence
of software to help them overcome their reading problems).
• Highlight the legal rights of these students to their preferred format.
Under the Disability Act, if you are a print impaired student you have a
right to have your books in an alternative format.
• Insist that Government policy makers and education ministers address
the current inequality in information access within the education sector.