Category: Accessibility

Assessing Numeracy and Maths with Forms

Forms can be used to create Quizzes (which allow assessment and feedback) or Forms (which collect information, such as evaluations). They can contain text, images and videos, which makes them engaging and accessible to more learners. A Quiz can also be set with correct answers and this will automatically assess and provide feedback to learners, which is ideal for metacognition. They are easy to duplicate and share between staff which can support moderation, ensure assessment is proportional and comparable between classes or levels.

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Aberdeenshire English as an Additional Language (EAL) Service

aberdeen council logoIn Aberdeenshire, our EAL teachers have been working to find the best ways to support bilingual learners and their families throughout the pandemic, as well as class teachers. If adapting to the challenges of the pandemic and online learning were not hard enough, many children and families have also faced the language barrier, as well as perhaps not being familiar with the Scottish Curriculum and routines and norms that may be taken for granted as something all children and families will think of as normal. Over the last year, our EAL teachers have embraced new ways of working and have developed a range of resources and approaches. Telephone interpreting used to be very rarely used but has now seen demand skyrocket with a lot of positive feedback on its effectiveness in breaking down the language barrier and building relationships between school and family. On several occasions schools have been able to speak to parents who they had not previously managed to reach, and as a result have managed to overcome some barriers that had prevented families from accessing online learning. EAL teachers have also been supporting bilingual learners by sharing advice and resources with class teachers, and also working with some pupils through video conferencing, including teaching SQA ESOL courses. The service has also produced translated comments and videos to support families who may be having difficulty in engaging with online learning.



Translated comments

A range of translated comments were develo­­­­­­ped to support home-school communication and have been used to communicate one way information to families, with comments being successfully used to overcome barriers to engagement:


“Aberdeenshire EAL Service covers a wide geographical area with a number of rural remote communities where our families can be distributed and which can pose communication challenges, particularly when schools are closed to most pupils during this time. One of my larger small town schools, that has a wide catchment area, have a family who were not responding to school information circulars and letters home. I sent the school the translated comments information which included a translation and the school came back and said they found it very useful and were discussing whether to send the translations out to other EAL families across the school.”

Sue Clutterbuck (EAL Teacher)


Translated Text Graphic

Telephone interpreting

Translated letters have also been developed to communicate to parents when the school would like to make a call and offer options that the parent can highlight for when they would be available. This has resulted in several calls with parents being arranged when the school had previously found it difficult to reach the parents.


“I supported a teacher in one of my schools in using the telephone interpreting service for the first time. By using the translated letters we had produced, parents were able to tell her when they would be free and she was able to call them and speak to them for the first time through an interpreter.”

Ian Brownlee (PT of EAL)


Our service has been strongly encouraging schools to use telephone interpreting and in general the feedback has been great (see examples of feedback in the picture below).


Telephone Interpreting Graphic


Translated Videos

We also worked in partnership with Aberdeenshire’s Learning Through Technology Team to develop translated videos that guide pupils/parents on how to log in to glow and how to use Microsoft Teams and Google Classrooms. The videos were produced in the top five most common languages in Aberdeenshire and have been successfully used to support some families in overcoming barriers to accessing and engaging with online learning:

“They used the link, watched the video and it worked! Bingo. ️”

Sarah Jane Bennison (EAL Teacher)

“I sent the video on how to connect to google classrooms to 2 of the P1 teachers from one of my schools, I made sure they had a direct access to the video, so they didn’t have to look around for it. They sent the video to the parents of P1 pupils with little English, who had not been engaged and 1 child the following day was online and the other child the week after.”

Amanda Blackburn (EAL Teacher)

Colleagues in other local authorities have also  given positive feedback on the videos:

“Of course, we have also been signposting homes to the brilliant videos on the use of ICT/GLOW/Teams on the Aberdeenshire site!”

“I’ve watched the translated glow videos your service have made – they are amazing! Would you mind if I shared that link with some of our schools?; the teams one and logging into glow are so valuable right now.”


Translated Video Screen Shot



Some aspects of online learning and supporting pupils remotely have of course been challenging and we are continuing to try to find ways to support bilingual learners, their families and teachers through the continually evolving circumstances. However the above examples have been successes that we were really happy with and delighted to share.

Ian Brownlee

Principal Teacher of English as an Additional Language

Aberdeenshire EAL Service

Call Scotland Professional Learning 2020

CALL Scotland’s Professional Learning will be delivered as 90 minute Online Learning workshops between August to December 2020.  Each workshop will focus on a different aspect of assistive technology to support pupils with additional support needs.

The cost of each course will be £40 per participant and there will be a maximum of 20 participants per course which will enable everyone to have an interactive collegiate learning experience.

Please have a look at the workshops CALL Scotland are offering and please share with all your schools and colleagues.

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CALL Scotland’s Shirley Lawson shines the spotlight on iPad Accessibility

The iPad is a popular, cool portable tablet which is commonly used to watch videos, play games and for social media.  In recent days, the use of this device has been increased to include more use of FaceTime and Zoom for keeping in touch with family and friends.  But what about for educational purposes?  The iPad has a range of very good in-built accessibility features that can support young people with additional support needs who will currently be at home accessing Google Classroom or One Note Class Notebook for school work their teachers have set for them.

What could be useful?

If you learn better when you can hear what you are reading or writing, features like Speak Screen, Speak Selection, Typing Feedback and Predictive Text can help by adding an auditory component to text.

Use Speak Selection to highlight the specific range of text you want to hear or activate Speak Screen by flicking down from the top of the screen with two fingers to have all the content on pages read back to you. This action can be tricky for some so you can now turn on the new Speech Controller which provides a Speak Under Finger feature for more precise control.


With Speak Selection and Speak Screen options, highlighted words, sentences or words within each sentence are read aloud which greatly enhances the reading experience for someone with literacy challenges and negates the need for them to solely focus on decoding the words.  And with Typing Feedback activated, each letter you type on the keyboard is spoken aloud as well. You can also use Predictive Text, which suggests word options that you can listen to and choose from to get help with spelling.


Reading a website

Craig, age 10, is an avid collector of fossils and he likes to look up information on the web but finds some websites can have an overwhelming amount of information displayed erratically in side bars and quotes making the body of the text hard to access.

On the left hand side of the URL address bar there are two AAs which will give you the option to Show Reader View.  Once his teacher showed him how to use Reader view he had a whole new reading experience; he loved the clear interface and combined with Speak Selection or Speak Screen was able to access information independently.  It should be noted that not every website offers this Reader view; it will depend how text heavy the site is.


Normal web view                                                                               Using Reader View




Another good accessibility feature is aimed at people who experience visual discomfort or stress when reading text on a screen.  Switching on Colour Filters gives an inbuilt colour ‘overlay’ for the iPad screen which will remain for whatever application you are in until you switch it off.

Open the Settings app, then tap Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Colour Filters. You’ll see three examples of colour spaces to help you select an option that fits your needs. Swipe left or right on the examples to find a filter that works best for you.


CALL Scotland have a great infographic on the above accessibility features and many others too which will support someone with dyslexia / literacy challenges.  You can download it for free from our website:  Using the iPad to support dyslexia

What about young people with more complex physical disabilities? What accessibility features are offered?  I worked last term with a young girl with Cerebral Palsy who had restricted movements with her upper limbs but was not keen on getting the Pupil Support Assistant to do everything for her.  She wanted to put the volume up and down, to use Speak Screen and to be able to take a screen shot but each of these actions required fine motor skills which she did not have.

By activating Assistive Touch in Settings and adding in the required functions she was then able to independently carry out the actions by touching the icon on the screen with her knuckle. She was delighted!

CALL Scotland can provide Professional Learning to any teachers who want to learn more about the accessibility features of the iPad to support their pupils with additional support needs.  Please contact to discuss your training requirements.

I have only mentioned a handful in this blog but this website is well worth a look to find out all of  Apple’s accessibility features. The use of assistive technology can be life changing for pupils with additional support needs and we need to raise awareness of what is possible on all devices.

For more information you can visit CALL Scotland’s website and you can also sign up for their newsletter here:

Other links that may be of interest:

CALL Scotland Are your learning resources accessible?

Edinburgh University Making the most of inclusive technology during Covid-19