Scottish Government
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Better access to learning resources

Young people with visual impairments, or other print disabilities, in Scotland will have access to the best educational material available from next term.

From August, they will be able to use the Scottish Books for All database powered by SCRAN, one of the largest educational online services, to access learning materials.

The database will contain a list of adapted materials which teachers can access to ensure that all pupils with additional support needs receive curriculum materials at the same time as their classmates in a format that meets their needs.

Adam Ingram, Minister for Children and Early Years, announced the move during a debate around a call by RNIB Scotland for a national transcription service for young people.

He said:

"RNIB have been very helpful in drawing this issue to our attention but we believe that with the steps we have taken there is no need for the type of national transcription service they propose. We are totally committed to ensuring that all our pupils can access the curriculum. The Books for All report has enabled us to identify gaps in provision and take positive steps to ensure that we can achieve this aim."

A recent study, entitled Books for All, by the national Communication Aids for Language and Learning (CALL) Centre, at University of Edinburgh, reported that pupils with visual impairment in Scotland are already very well catered for and there were many more pupils with a print disability who would also benefit from adapted materials.

Until recently, one of the biggest stumbling blocks in schools related to Copyright legislation. The Schools copyright license only allowed materials to be adapted for those with visual impairment or physical impairment but from April this year, the Copyright Licensing Agency agreed to extend the license to cover those who are visually impaired or otherwise disabled which is of course a much wider definition.

Mr Ingram said:

"This is a fantastic achievement which will benefit a large number of pupils with a range of needs, including those with dyslexia. It is essential that all young people meet their full potential and that schools play their role in this by providing all pupils with accessible curriculum materials."

The Scottish Government has also funded the CALL Centre to take forward a project which will enable pupils to listen to digital curriculum materials spoken out in a Scottish voice. This high quality computer voice, known as "Heather", ( the voice of 'Heather the Weather' )can be downloaded by all schools free of charge from the CALL centre website.

The database, Scottish Books for All, is being piloted with local authorities who are GLOW users and by those who were represented on the stakeholder group. Learning and Teaching Scotland began the pilot in April and will feed back their findings in June.

The Education (Disability Strategies and Pupils' Educational Records) (Scotland) Act 2002 requires that all disabled pupils are able to access the curriculum and that includes ensuring that they have access to accessible curriculum materials.

The annual pupil census recorded 1,156 pupils with a visual impairment recognized as an additional support need in Scotland's school in September 2007.

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