CALL Scotland: Our Services for Learners with Additional Support Needs

CALL Scotland is part of The University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education, located just off the Royal Mile. We have been working with Scottish Book Trust for a few years, initially to provide accessible, electronic versions of shortlisted books for the Scottish Children’s Book Awards, then moving on to also provide symbolised resources for the Bookbug Picture Book Prize (see the recent blog by my colleague, Joanna).

What does CALL do?

Most of CALL’s funding comes from the Scottish Government, or from local authorities, and our work usually comes under one of these headings:

  • Assessment and support for pupils with communication difficulties
  • Information and advice
  • Professional learning for teachers and others working with learners with communication difficulties
  • Loans of equipment and technical support
  • Research and Development
  • Strategic leadership in partnership with the Scottish Government, local authorities, Scottish Qualifications Authority and others

Further information about what we do is available from the main CALL web site.

Assessment and Support

Every year, CALL typically provides direct support in schools for around 100 pupils with additional support needs in local authorities with whom we have a service level agreement. (Currently, just over half of the authorities have such an agreement.) We visit schools, working with staff and individual pupils to assess whether technology can help raise attainment levels. We can provide loans of equipment for evaluation and will make recommendations to the schools on how the pupil can best be supported.

Information and Advice

We respond to over 500 requests for information every year. Some enquiries are straightforward, e.g. where to get a piece of equipmentl. Others seem simple, but are actually complicated, e.g. how technology can help a child with dyslexia – every child is different and what works for one child won’t necessarily help another. Our web site has an Information Section where we try to answer common questions. It is also possible to arrange a free consultation session to explore technology in greater depth.

Professional Learning

Shirley Lawson of CALL Scotland delivers a presentation
Our annual programme of morning, afternoon and day courses, held at Moray House in Edinburgh, provides a wide range of professional learning opportunities in schools and local authorities, with each course tailored to the needs of the staff. We have regular 30-minute webinars with CALL staff and occasional guest presenters, usually held at 4pm on a Wednesday afternoon. In addition, we organise occasional special events, such as our annual Additional Support for Learning and Technology conference, held in June every year.

Loans and Technical Services

A child operating a touch screen computer
CALL can provide short-term loans of specialist equipment for communication and learning for the use of individual people with disabilities throughout Scotland. Equipment includes assistive technology to make it easier for people with disabilities to access computers, communication aids, switch accessible-toys and lots more. Some equipment (e.g. laptops, iPads, eye gaze systems) is generally restricted to use by pupils who have been referred to CALL for assessment and support.

Strategic Leadership

We work in collaboration with key partners to develop and deliver effective policy and good practice in the use of assistive technology and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) for pupils with additional support needs (ASN) and disabilities throughout Scotland. Partners include the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament, local authorities, Education Scotland, Scottish Qualifications Authority, Augmentative Communication in Practice: Scotland, Dyslexia Scotland, Scottish Book Trust and others.

Research and Development

An infographic about the Book Creator programme, created by CALL Scotland
Over the last 30 years, CALL has had a leading role in the development of many innovations in the use of technology to support learners with disabilities. The Books for All database provides access to text for children who can’t read a standard book. Adapted Digital Exam papers were a world first for Scotland in allowing pupils to sit exams independently, without relying on a reader or scribe. Our information posters on iPads and other devices are used in thousands of schools across the world.

CALL Scotland will be blogging more for us in the coming weeks about the Books For All Database and best practice in supporting pupils with communication difficulties. Click on the additional support needs blog tag to find CALL's previous blog post, plus a range of other posts about additional support needs.

Allan Wilson

Allan Wilson is an information officer at CALL Scotland.