Assistive ICT for SEN in schools

This page offers initial guidance for schools in providing assistive ICT for pupils with special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities.

For children who are unable to read or write effectively, assistive ICT, used appropriately, can reduce many of the barriers to achievement and differences in learning.

Assistive ICT includes a range of technologies from hardware devices, to furniture, to software, which widen equal access to learning for anyone regardless of impairment or disability.

Under the revised SEND Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years (CoP) schools have a duty to:

  • Use their best endeavours to make sure that a child with SEN gets the support they need (CoP 6.2)
  • Determine the desired outcomes for each pupil, and
  • Provide support for achieving these (CoP 6.40)

Schools also have a 'reasonable adjustments' duty to provide auxiliary aids to prevent disabled pupils being put at a disadvantage (CoP 6.9).

Who assistive ICT can help

Assistive ICT can provide additional support in schools for pupils who have:

  • Cognition and learning difficulties (literacy, spelling, dyslexia)
  • Language difficulties
  • Spoken communication difficulties: if specialist Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) devices are required contact the Speech and Language Therapy team

How assistive ICT can help

Assistive ICT can offer supportive features such as:

  • Spell checker
  • Speech output
  • Word banks
  • Prediction
  • Symbols or pictures to support text
  • Dictation: consider the use of a scribe, sound recording or speech recognition software (free with Windows 7 and above or Dragon Naturally Speaking)
  • Alternative input hardware, for example key guards, accessible keyboards (Big Keys, mini keyboards, on-screen keyboard), mouse alternatives (rollerball, joystick, glide-pad). A wide range of hardware is available from Inclusive Technology

Suggested software and resources

For PC

  • Clicker (primary age) or DocsPlus (secondary age) - includes spell checker, word banks, use of pictures and symbols, prediction, speech output, switch access for disabled pupils
  • Communicate: in Print and Symwriter (Widgit software) - includes spell checker, word banks, use of pictures and Widgit symbols, speech output, switch access for disabled pupils
  • WordTalk free add-on for Microsoft Word to provide speech output
  • Co:Writer powerful prediction software to add-on to Word and other software
  • Read & Write provides a powerful toolbar with supportive spellchecker, word banks, prediction, speech output and many other features
  • Windows Speech recognition - provided free with Windows 7 and above
  • Dragon Naturally Speaking - speech recognition software
  • Bookshare A free source of electronic books and texts to enable customisation for individual pupils with visual or literacy difficulties
  • BBC Dance Mat Typing, Doorway online Free online touch typing tutors ('Doorway' includes one-handed typing exercises)

For iPad

Additional advice and support