March 2020 Issue 20
Supporting staff and students to achieve their full potential
(Est. 1968)
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Woman on laptopDear CENMAC Community,

Over the last month our team has been busy visiting schools, running training sessions and learning about accessibility within Microsoft Office. We are also extremely pleased to be introducing Toby to our team in the role of specialist teaching assistant. Toby has experience of supporting students using assistive technology and will be able to provide valuable support to others in building their confidence in using the applications and equipment.

In this March edition Ben has explored how technology can engage and empower our students with complex learning and physical disabilities in and outside the classroom. 

Finally you might like to attend the session on Scanning Pens, a fantastic tool to not only assist those with reading difficulties but for many other educational opportunities, to hear more and arrange a trial see the details below. Don’t forget to sign up for your Communication Works 2020 tickets, your free Assertive Technology CPD.


Register now for Communications Works 2020 South | North

Children at exhibition stand

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Green box with text


Kathryn Stowell
CENMAC Team Leader


PMLD and Assistive Technology


Using Technology to Engage Learners with Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulties (PMLD) 

boy with drum and teacherStudents with PMLD have severe and complex learning difficulties. They can also have other significant difficulties, such as physical disabilities and auditory/visual impairments. PMLD students are often used to having little control over their environment and this is where technology can provide and promote independence. 

As all teachers know, the key to learning is engagement. These students may be engaged by a limited range of stimuli and may need a more personalised curriculum than other students. Children with PMLD may not be able intentionally communicate the likes and dislikes, so we often have to interpret their vocalisations, body language, facial expressions or behaviour to understand their preferences. Family members and those who know those students best will often know what they like instinctively. They may respond positively to tactile stimuli. Possibly massage – either soft or firm? Or the feeling of air blowing on their face? Sounds? Maybe a particular performer or kind of music? A particular person and their voice? High pitched sounds? Loud or quiet? Maybe lights, a particular colour or patterns? Or a taste? Once we have identified a student's interests and preferences, we can develop engaging and enriching activities for them to participate in. 

[Read more ...]

Above image (c) Charlton Park Academy

bett logo

Woman standing in front of presentation

BETT 2020

Team members were very impressed with the range of developments on display at BETT this year.  


Carol Allen's seminar around Supporting Children with Speech, Language and Communication Needs was inspiring. Carol's focus was on the use of technology to promote communication in its broadest sense. She focused on storytelling. She introduced several free online tools. Highlights were the website, Storyline Online, which features videos of celebrated actors reading children's books. Vocaroo, a free online tool, allows speech to be recorded and shared. A very accessible way of celebrating children's achievements and bringing alive a class blog or social media feed! She also introduced Sphero Specdrums – app connected rings which react to colour with sounds. 

Paul Nisbet, the director of CALL Scotland, ran a seminar on the use of assistive technology for students in secondary school. Given the range of computerized text readers and voice recognition software, both dedicated and those now being built into mainstream software and hardware devices, he highlighted the role of technology in promoting independence in students rather than fostering dependence via the use of scribes and readers. He pointed to the range of textbooks available in a digital format, highlighted sources such as RNIB's Bookshare, the National Accessible Library and CALL Scotland's own Booksforall

The team were generally impressed by the range of accessibility being built into mainstream products. Microsoft have launched a set of learning tools for their Office products. Alexa was mentioned by several speakers, along with the voice recognition and text-to-speech built into most operating systems and phones. We were also impressed by customized controls created for the Xbox by Logitech. 

Above image taken by one of our Advisory Teachers at BETT


Useful SLD/PMLD Links

two teachers and students and ipad
Above image (c) Charlton Park Academy

Free downloadable one switch games 
A wealth of free online browser-based and downloadable switch-based resources from the author of The Switch Progression Roadmap: 
Youtube videos switch accessible, either simple cause and effect or via scanning - for free:
Lots of very high quality posters and guides to help practitioners with accessibility technology, including switchessingle and multi-message devices and Eye GazeCall Scotland 
A wealth of engaging games for switch and touchscreen: 
Assess and teach early Eye Gaze skills: Insight 
Create, edit and play personalised switch and touchscreen accessible learning materials that can be used in your classroom and with individual students securely online and then download them to your iPad or Android tablet: Choose IT Maker 3 
Inclusive Technology software making it super-easy to create simple personalised switch accessible slideshows with custom images and sound: Slideshow Maker 

Let's welcome our new team member

Head and shoulder of young man

I'm Toby Seriki and the newest member of the CENMAC Advisory Team.

I'm a psychology graduate and have previously worked as a 1:1 Learning Support Assistant for a young person with Cerebral Palsy.  I have recently started as a Specialist Assistant for CENMAC. I'm extremely excited to have joined the CENMAC team and look forward to getting involved.

Training Dates


As many of you are aware, the CENMAC team provide centralised training which is bookable via our website 

Scanning Pens

Scanning Pens offer literacy aids designed to give independence and increased confidence attached to reading. When Scanning Pens are implemented as an accepted method of working they assist in closing the reading gap, allowing pupils to access age relevant content and all areas of the curriculum.

Scanning Pens support many SpLDs such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, as well as EAL students and those with visual impairments.

This workshop will give you the opportunity to see the different Scanning Pens in action and take away numerous resources that have been designed to ensure easy implementation of the pens with students. To compliment these educational resources there will also be ready made literacy support strategy with our pens in order to continually monitor students progress and make sure they are getting the required support from their Scanning Pen.

Scanning Pens: 

Eventbrite  | 2 April 2020
June:  Clicker Training: 

Eventbrite  | 2 June 2020
widgit symbol of washing handsCOV-19: guidance for educational setting

We are very aware of the importance of keeping our technology clean along with all the advice on washing hands. The keyboards, screens and switches are the key components we are making sure we wipe down after use especially as we move about the different schools.

… and finally

Don't forget to share this newsletter with colleagues and friends. If there is any information or themes you would like to see in our newsletter, then please drop us a line at

Useful CENMAC links:
CENMAC and Charlton Park Academy Vimeo Channel
CENMAC - based at Charlton Park Academy (est.1968) | @charltonsch  
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