June 2020 Issue 23
Supporting staff and students to achieve their full potential
(Est. 1968)
        Illustration of two people at screen                                 



Dear CENMAC Community,

Although we are all missing our visits into schools, we are valuing the interactions and contact with families. I have been in awe of the parents/carers who are embracing home learning with their children who learn, interact and communicate in different ways. I know how exhausting it has been but it hasn’t stopped parents/carers being incredibly creative, resourceful and fully supporting the use of assistive technologies, well done to all of you!  

We have very much appreciated the time school SENCOs and staff have given us to complete reviews and assessments online. It is so promising to see the importance and significance of technology being highlighted during this time and we look forward to the long term impact.

As you start to adapt your schools for the gradual return of students, you may like to make use of the excellent back to school toolkit and visual resources by widgit: . As many schools have been posting their weekly lessons on their websites, Toby has been adapting into Clicker Grids to support a number of our CENMAC students. So we thought others might like to make use of these too:

Excitingly our postponed Animation course with the Rainbow Collective is now happening online. I’m sure we are going to have some fantastic work to share before long, so watch this space.

Our team have attended some brilliant webinars and training so in this newsletter we have included some links for up and coming sessions. As everyone is starting to master online communication, we thought we would also share some tools and ways to have fun with your technology, why not try out some AI (Artificial Intelligence)

Visit: and our resources area on our website:

Screen grab of cenmac website



Working Remotely or from Home
Customising Backgrounds for Virtual Meetings 

Image © Microsoft Teams

Thanks to Tobii Dynavox for the great webinar on how to use symbols and create virtual backgrounds for online meetings, training sessions or working with students. These can be used in a number of ways, for instance a ‘Now and Next’ background to explain what you will be covering in the session, a schedule of events, or a choice board for students. Tobii Dynavox also have a selection of ready-made PCS backgrounds that you can use here: 

For any school staff using Microsoft Teams for their meetings, wanting to personalise their background: 

  • Save the image you want to use as a .jpg file. 
  • Next time you are in a Teams meeting and go to 'Show background effects' you can add your chosen image by clicking '+ Add new' in ‘Background settings’ and finding it in your saved pictures.
  • Then simply scroll down to find it beneath the pre-existing Microsoft backgrounds and click 'Preview' or 'Apply'.

Next time you are in a Teams meeting and go to 'Show background effects' it will be there ready to use in ‘Background settings’

Woman on sofa with laptopAlso some tips on shortcuts when using Teams 

There’s nothing worse than spending 20 minutes trying to find the function you need when you’re in the middle of a meeting or working on a project. 

That’s why it’s a good idea to learn the keyboard shortcuts available in Microsoft Teams. 

Here are a few of the basics you need to know: 

  • Go to Search (move straight to the search bar): Ctrl + E 
  • Turn your camera off Ctrl+Shift+O 
  • Mute yourself: Ctrl+Shift+M 
  • Background blur: Ctrl+Shift+P 
  • Zoom: Ctrl+= to zoom in or Ctrl+- to zoom out 
  • Go to your files: Ctrl+6 

To get a complete list of all your keyboard shortcuts, enter /Keys into the search menu at the top of Microsoft Teams.

(Image above ©

No Isolation

We have all had a taste of being in isolation now but for some of our students it will be for a lot longer than others. The AV1 Robot is the perfect answer, we are pleased to be sending our AV1s out to those in need. Please ask if you would like to find out more.  |

(Images © No isolation and Gallery AR)

No isolation robot and boy in backgroundIcon for a virtual app of faceless woman looking at Van Gogh painting 

Fun with AI 

One of our favourite AI apps is the seeing AI appA free Microsoft app which reads and navigates the world around you. Download the app and point your handheld device at text, money, faces, objects and scenes

Gallery AR turns your surroundings into the art gallery. You just need to pick up the phone and find a wall. The iconic art paints will show in front of you!

Colouring sheets that come alive when you colour and hold your device with the Quiver Colouring app (the app does cost £2.99) watch the magic happen.


CENMAC - Lockdown Archives

Illustration of two children on sofa with a device and book


Some of you may have learnt new skills, been involved with new hobbies, or have found ingenious ways to stay connected and carry on with work or school. 

We are inviting all students who receive CENMAC support, and adults working with them, whether that is parents/carers or school staff to archive what life has been like during lockdown. Please choose the best way for you to tell us about what it has been like for you, and how your CENMAC equipment and support has helped. This could be a story, a recount, a poem or a piece of art. 

All students submitting their ‘Lockdown Story’ piece will be entered into a prize draw. 
So send your submissions to your CENMAC contact or to by 1 July 2020 to be in with a chance to win. 

We will share your lockdown experiences in the July edition of the newsletter.


Illustration of Black British PeopleBlack British History
100 Great Black Britons home school competition open to all age groups 

This competition can relate to any subjects within the national curriculum. It’s a fun and engaging way to teach children at home about Black British History and how it helped shape our country. 

This competition is sponsored by The National Education Union (NEU). 

For full details and resources visit:  |  Deadline 30 September 2020

CENMAC Training

Woman looking at computer screen


Online Clicker Training

Date: Wednesday 17 June 2020
Time: 10-11.30am
Trainer: Katie Finch, Crick Software

Eventbrite Link: 
 Online Clicker Training_CM4

Online DocsPlus Training

Date: Wednesday 24 June 2020
Time: 10-11.30am
Trainer: Katie Finch, Crick Software
Eventbrite Link:  
Online DocsPlus Training_CM5

CENMAC Recommends 

illustration of girl using iPad on stand
Illustration ©

Our team share some great articles and links:

  • A fascinating article describing the potential to use gestures to communicate via a device


TechEd CPD Fest Webinars: free to attend! 
As the need to stay alert and reduce travel and face-to-face contact continues, companies are becoming more creative in how they adapt their usual training and events. 

Advert for webinar with woman at computer

TechEd Showcase are delivering a series of CPD webinars, which will be taking place between the end of June and the beginning of July. 

There is a choice of 7 live webinars from a range of Assistive Technology Experts. Once registered, you will be sent a link with recordings which you can watch again. 

Visit: to sign up.


Any LGFL schoolsLGFL Inclusive Training, 
If you are lucky enough to be an LGFL school, then you have access to some fantastic resources. You may like to sign up to one of their upcoming online Inclusive training sessions  to learn more about what is available for SEND.

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