SENCOs invariably have a limited budget, so have to buy wisely – never more so than in today’s economic climate.
So how can you make sure that the software you choose is the right one to address learners’ difficulties, and how do you ensure that your purchase doesn’t remain at the bottom of the shelf collecting dust?
iansyst, the parent company to dyslexic.com, outlines a few tips that are useful to consider before making your purchase, helping you to select the appropriate software and avoid costly mistakes.
How accessible is the product?
Are you able to customise the software settings to meet the individual needs of the student? Can you set the age/levels/SEN requirements and are you able to add your own graphics/wordlists? For some programs this may not be a requirement, especially if they are linked to the national curriculum levels – for others it could be vital to the success of the product.
Is it cross-curricular?
Can your purchase be used right across the curriculum and does it offer value for money?
The ‘enjoyability’ factor
Is it motivating and fun to use? Often games or rewards help to capture the imagination of a student; however they can also be deemed a distraction. Are these programs appropriate for the environment in which they will be used?
Printing and tracking
Do you want to track the process your students are making and print reports? If so it is important to
ensure that the software you choose has these
Is there an annual fee as well as the initial cost of the product? What are the costs of updates likely to be?
Some key products to consider
Even once you know what type of package you are looking for it can still be a daunting task trying to establish what to buy. Outlined below are some key products you may wish to consider having in your special needs department:
Computers are a great tool for both adults and
children, and it is important to become familiar and confident with using the computer as quickly as possible. A good typing tutor will enable the user to find their way around a keyboard. Nessy Fingers is a fun and easy-to-use program which can be used to enhance typing whilst using National Curriculum word lists to practice with. Kaz typing tutor is also an
excellent package which provides a dyslexia-friendly way of learning to touch type.
‘Mapping’ concepts, processes and plans is now widely accepted as an important learning and organisational tool. It is incredibly adaptive and can be used in a variety of different subject areas. Inspiration offers an easy to use concept mapping tool that helps focus thoughts and express ideas quickly and effectively.
Its unstructured approach allows users the freedom to organise and prioritise work. For a more structured approach, MindGenius provides a fun and interactive program where you can create a wide range of concept maps and export them into a variety of applications.
The process of planning and drafting a piece of writing can be difficult for many individuals. EB WordBanks provides a writing grid that sits alongside your word processor, giving you instant access to the words and phrases relevant to your subject area.
It is fully customisable and suitable for a wide age group.
Text-to-speech programs such as Read&Write and ClaroRead offer simple, easy–to-use floating toolbars providing speech feedback and literacy support in all subject areas.
For more information on the products featured, visit www.dyslexic.com
or call 0800 018 0045.