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January 2021 | Issue 29
Supporting staff and students to achieve their full potential
(Est. 1968)

Dear CENMAC Community,

Happy New Year! Not quite the start we wanted for 2021 but another good opportunity to ensure technology is available to all students and their families, especially those who are at a disadvantage. 


graphic with image of people around a man in a wheelchair and the text CENMAC
This week we are excited to be taking part in our first virtual exhibition and have set up our virtual booth. It’s free to sign up to
 Tes SEN Show Virtual so do come along and say a virtual hello!  

We wish you all the best for the coming weeks, please do make contact with us if you would like any support or assistance as you manage your education provision both in school and online.  

Kathryn Stowell
Head of CENMAC


New Year/New Tech

New Tech: 2021 

Working with young people who need the support of assistive technology is an extremely rewarding job, the  feedback we get from students when they can achieve something that was previously unattainable is incredible. Every year innovative technology is developed that supports the work we do, making life better and easier for the young people we work with. This month I thought we could look at some of the existing and emerging technologies that will help and empower students to build confidence, develop independence and social interaction plus have fun. 

IPhone12 - LiDAR 

 Image of the camera from the device LiDAR ScannerApple's newest smartphone, the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max each include a LiDAR scanner. Even though Apple launched the iPad Pro with LiDAR at the beginning of 2020, the technology is still relatively unknown. However, LiDAR has several uses and anyone that owns an iPhone 12 Pro or Pro Max should explore what is possible with this unique feature. 

This is brilliant modern technology for people with visual impairment, the LiDAR on the iPhone will detect people in the vicinity of the user and give an audio description of their surroundings. 

Image (c) iPhone12
LiDAR, is a method for measuring distances (ranging) by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflection with a sensor. Differences in laser return times and wavelengths can then be used to make digital 3-D representations of the target.  

European man with brown hair and sunglasses holding an iphoneSeeing AI: App Apple/Android

Seeing AI is a free app that narrates the world for the blind and low vision community. It is the product of an ongoing research project that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to open the visual world by describing nearby people, texts and objects. 

Seeing AI uses AI technology not only to recognise and read short text passages, documents, product labels and so on, but also to describe people and scenery captured by a mobile phone camera. 

Image (c) iPhone12

SoundScape: Microsoft App  Blune line shape with dots and sound waves

Soundscape provides information about your surroundings with synthesized binaural audio, creating the effect of 3D sound. It can run in the background in conjunction with navigation or other applications to provide you with additional context about the environment. Your phone, in hand or in pocket, tracks movement using location and activity sensors, and lets you move toward a self-set audio beacon. Soundscape runs on iPhone SE, iPhone 6S or later and is compatible with most wired or Bluetooth stereo headsets. 
Image (c) Soundscape, Microsoft

Spiderman with AI glassesAugmented Reality Glasses - AI glasses.  
E.D.I.T.H. Spiderman  

There is a great deal of research being done on AI wearables, there is massive potential in wearable technology that supports, enhances and enables people with disabilities to live full and productive lives without feeling different. There is already a choice of smart glasses that enable the user to connect to computers, audio devices, location, and navigation systems. Here is a list of the 8 best smart glasses that can be bought today. You can be Tony Stark.

Image (c) Spiderman, 2019

European man standing next to sign of his name Karst HoogsteenDeveloping Assistive Technology for Visually Impaired (MSc Thesis)  

An interesting film explaining how AI and Augmented glasses can support people with visual impairments. Click on the link below to see this film on youtube.  
Image (c) Karst Hoogsteen

White gaming deviceAccessible Gaming 
Microsoft Adaptive Controller - Xbox – Windows PC 

Aimed at gamers with limited mobility, the Xbox Adaptive Controller features the same controls you’d get on any other Xbox One controller with large programmable buttons, mapped to ‘A’ and ‘B’ by default, front and centre. 

The Controller acts as central hub to which you can attach several peripherals like the Logitech Adaptive Gaming Kit, letting gamers tailor the controls to better suit their needs.  
Image (c) Xbox

White hand consolePlayStation 5 DualSense Wireless Controller  

The latest controller from Playstation uses haptic feedback and fully programmable buttons which can be configured to suit the needs of a wide variety of users with disabilities. 

Feel physically responsive feedback to your in-game actions with dual actuators which replace traditional rumble motors. In your hands, these dynamic vibrations can simulate the feeling of everything from environments to the recoil of different weapons. 
Image (c) Play Station 

Adaptive triggers 
Experience varying levels of force and tension as you interact with your in-game gear and environments. From pulling back an increasingly tight bowstring to hitting the brakes on a speeding car, feel physically connected to your on-screen actions. 
Built-in microphone and headset jack 
Chat with friends online using the built-in microphone – or by connecting a headset to the 3.5mm jack. Easily switch voice capture on and off at a moment’s notice with the dedicated mute button. 

Adapting gaming consoleLogitech Adaptive Gaming Kit - Works with the Microsoft Xbox adaptive controller 

The Adaptive Gaming Kit is a collection of high performance, durable buttons, and triggers for the Xbox Adaptive Controller to unlock the possibilities of play. Logitech G worked with different accessibility organisations to develop a comprehensive set of controls for ultimate configurability and flexibility. 

 Image (c) Microsoft

European man with a robotic armFinally let's look at the
Assistive Device Olympics

Assistive Device Olympics 2020: CYBATHLON 2020. 51 teams from 20 countries competed against each other, completing everyday tasks with the help of ultramodern assistance systems. Due to the Covid- 19 pandemic, the teams competed for the first time in different time zones and locations. Apart from the winning teams, the technological advances within assistive technology for athletes attracted the most attention, as well as promoting social inclusion. 

Cybathlon 2020 –  
Image (c) Assistive Device Olympics

Blue graphic with floral images

The TES show and the companies
we will be sharing in our virtual booth


Five colourful logos

ARpedia | BrightSign Glove | Cosmo | No Isloation | Rix Wiki

Illustration of two women at a screen

Teaching Assistant Award | January 2021

In our work supporting students with assistive technology, we meet some amazing teaching assistants who we would like to acknowledge. The extra work and the skills of these individuals have a huge impact on their students' learning.


Congratulations to James Smart, January 2021 Teaching Assistant Award

James Smart – Corpus Christi RC Primary school – Brixton. 

'Firstly, I would like to thank you for the award. 

Being a TA is the most rewarding job I can think of. I have the pleasure of working closely with children and being present to watch them develop as people is genuinely a privilege and an experience I would highly recommend to anyone. I greatly enjoy the creative colleagues I work with and they inspire me to interact in more varied ways with the children which, I hope, makes the learning process as fun as possible. I feel that being a TA allows me to get to know the children closely and hopefully give them the opportunity to express themselves as they choose, in a safe and non-judgemental environment. Lastly, there is not a day that the kids fail to make you smile and laugh, which really is the best experience and one I try to give back to them.'


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CENMAC Online Training

January - February 2021

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