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Support for Children with communication problems and difficulty

Communication Aids Project (CAP)

This Government funded project, managed by BECTa is designed to help children who have a significant difficulty in communicating with others and often turns to Words Worldwide for a solution. The CAP initiative seeks to give support to children who have difficulty in understanding language, communicating verbally and using written communication.

It is not surprising then to learn that KeyStone SpeechMaster is often recommended by the CAP assessors to children's teachers and parents. Mick Donegan, of the Ace Centre in Oxford, states, "The key issue is not just a matter of 'Which software is best?', but, 'Which software is best for this particular user?'".

A CAP Case Study

To give some impression of how the CAP project works and how flexible it can be, a rather unusual case is described below where two boys from the same class were provided simultaneously with equipment.

At a school in the East Midlands two schoolboys with severe dyslexia were provided with equipment by CAP to assist their communication problems. These 14-year-old individuals were both articulate and of average intelligence, masking the fact that neither could read or write effectively, or spell accurately. Neither boy could produce a single coherent sentence without significant spelling and grammatical errors, after great mental effort.

The attitude of the pupils was quite different. One had been totally disenchanted by the education system and felt that it had 'passed him by'. His only wish regarding school appeared to be that he could escape from it as soon as possible. The second boy was keen to progress but felt hopelessly frustrated by his difficulties. The effect on both was the same: their written communication skills were effectively non-existent.

The parents of both pupils were supportive as was the LEA and the school. The SENCO at the school was particularly keen to get the boys working and was enthusiastic about having the new equipment. Each boy received a laptop with KeyStone SpeechMaster loaded.

W3 agreed to provide training for the two lads together so that they could benefit from four separate training days rather than two. Three parents attended for both of the first two days and involved themselves fully with the training. A classroom assistant also sat in on the training with the SENCO. Each adult was also taught how to use the system so that they could more ably support the pupils.

Both pupils valued the voice response from KeyStone, without which they felt unable to work effectively with the system. They were quickly producing imaginative written work that astonished the individuals, their parents and school staff. Work previously strived over or was simply never finished could literally be achieved within minutes.

The W3 trainer was delighted with the outcome of the first two-day training session. Corrections were few because of the high accuracy of the recognition system. Keystone's voiced output enabled the individuals to spot the occasional errors that they would have missed when just looking at the screen. During correction, correct choices were selected in almost every case through listening carefully to the KeyStone read-back.

The pupils have been using the system successfully in the classroom and at home. W3 is now arranging a follow-up two-day refresher session. This will include a group of classroom assistants who will be trained so that the support group can be further extended.

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