SENCO update 2023

It’s 2023 and now the pandemic is still around but schools are operating – well teachers are going on strike but that is a different matter  . Still schools and SENCO’s have carried on regardless. In this 3rd edition I will mention some of the new stuff that has appeared.

Glean  is a simple to use note-taking tool that captures realtime speech. Useful for students at university but also secondary pupils. Always seek permission before recording though.

Orcam Read is a new device that reads text anytime, anywhere . It’s a smart reader but very effective and Orcam produce evidence of its effectiveness. Orcam have been known for their glasses device which helps the visually impaired. It is a bit pricey but worth knowing about for certain pupil needs. The Orcam Read is designed to be portable and used like a pen pointing at print or signs or anything that needs reading

Lexpore is an visual screening tool that pics up children may have in reading and vision. It’s not a dyslexia screening tool but it does indicate a problem. The test takes 5 mins per pupil and uses eye-gaze to measure eye movement and length of time spent reading a range of appropriately pitched reading material. If you are interested in having a look at book a demo via their website.

Scanning Pens have released a couple of publications.  “The Literacy Passport”which aims to cover the transition and for those assessing reading and learning stratgies. Available on request is “The Helping Hand Detective Agency” – a detective story with scanning pens. All these are meant to support the use of their pens . Both publications written by Julia Clouter, an experienced SENCO herself and a very good speaker and trainer. Loads of practical ideas

MiniGuide for Assistive Technology – a collaboration with  nasen, myself and Julia Clouter which is due for realease in March this year . This is meant to help SENCO’s Teachers and other Professionals to use the assistive technology in a strategic way.

Have you looked at our “Apps” tab? It now includes an online database which you can search according to need or attainment level in either NC, P Scale or Levels of Engagement .  Also it can show what next app you can use to build a particular teaching skill, Still a work in progress it offers a wealth of information to the busy SENCO. It is revised monthly and new apps are added.

For some useful “freebies” please click on the link below:- 

or use this QR code


Before we look at products just want to mention a project I am involved with called The Power of AT. It’s a series of 3 films dealing the impact of AT on pupil’s lives using pupil voices to tell their stories. Please consider using these films in training, INSET Days, Staff meetings and Assemblies .

Here is a link to a teaser for the series due in Spring 2023 for release:-

“The Power of AT”

Clicker 8 gives access to eye gaze systems and has a really useful feature where you can add colour coded audio notes to your writing. Useful for pupils with memory issues. To see an overview :-

There are a variety of ways you can access training both free online and paid full days to pass onto schools. If you  want to upgrade always tell them to talk to Crick Software and speak to either Sandra Randall . Here is the link to regional training days and other training:-

Microsoft 365 can speak! For those using Office 2016 and Office 365 you can go to review and click on Read Aloud to hear what you have written speak back to you! And you also have a picture library. If you go to immersive reader and select the Book icon you will get this when you click on a word – great news for your struggling readers and non-text readers

Microsoft OneNote now being used in schools on Windows Surface devices and Tablet PC’s. Good organisational tool for pupils with sen and can add audio notes as well as drawings, photos and links.Learning Tools is an add-on to install ( for free) into OneNote. As more schools use OneNote this would provide access for students with dyslexia . Go to tools. 

Microsoft Edge as a variety of new features like anb instant translator to any webiste that convertys it into a language of choice. The range of languages are growing all the time. You can also use its ReadAloud feature which works well with the Microsoft Word app. So using Read Aloud and Voice input via the iPad keyboard you have an effective text to speech and speech to text tool.

Notes on the iPad has had further tools added like scanned documents as well as photos. There is also a feature to take text from a screen and make into speech. Useful for pupils taking notes. This will give increased accuracy and clarity- more so than a normal photo. There are drawing tools as well that can annotate a note or add a highlight tool.  One further addition is the ability to read text back which is selected in the Accessibility Options. Go to Settings > Accessibility>Physical > Spoken Content. When you press on a word in a note or any app you will be given the option to have it read back . You can also change speed and select a different voice. I like Serena if you have that voice from Siri!! She is very clear and UK.

Nessy has been a favourite for sencos’s for a long time. They have recently added a training module suitable for staff, in particularly teaching assistants . Go to It helps your team to understand Dyslexia and it’s also free!

doitprofiler is a online screening tool for recognising individual needs for school and industry enabling a better understanding of individual needs such as Dyslexia  A comprehensive literacy and numeracy battery is available providing a break down of skills to enable targeting of support. This provides instant guidance for the student and management information for the organisation and at class/group level . For more information go to :- 

Another type of screening is for visual needs gives a free screening to see if a pupil has a visual need or not

Oribisoftware have two add-on tools that can used with Google Chrome browser. They are VeritySpell ( £free add-on) and OribiSpeak( free trial)  .  VeritySpell checks the useage of the word you want and suggests alternatives. For more information go to

ClaroScanPen which converts an image you take with the camera  into spoken
text, Forget app is also useful for remembering events and lists,etc

C-Pen is a scanning pen that allows students to read paperbased text for themselves and now is approved by JCQ for reading exam questions. You can request a 30 day free trial at 

Tools to record is AudioNote taker by Sonocent and their is app called Sonocent
as well. Records and you attribute its importance so you have a visual of what
you need.

Natural Reader (£free IOS, Android – inapp purchase £9.99)  – is a flexible text to speech reader with good free UK voices. The free version is lasts for only 15 mins and then you can’t use it for an hour. So to say it is free isn’t completely accurate. It can read successfully, ebooks, pdfs, documents and webpages. It claims to read emails but not convinced about that. The website  .   is free and you can try out the product and use it there. But you can’t save any documents there and therefore the advantage of the app is that it stores documents to be retrieved by the pupil later.

If you want to keep up to speed with what is going on in the world of Special
needs I can suggest signing up to Special World
and my new intelligent website which designs the look and feel itself.

Scanning Pens– provide exam recognised scanning tool that can help students to read their exam papers a line at a time.

And now for apps and software!

HandyBooks ( Not sure if it’s still available Android, £free and £2.99) – is an android app that provides a window for text to be read line by line on an android device. Focus and Read does a similar thing for the PC and provides a floating window to work with any application

Seesaw -(£free, iOS) is an assessment data collection tool for teachers to use with their pupils. It is easy to operate and use.

Evidence – (£free, iOS) links evidence to standard attainment statements such as the computing and early years curriculum .. Comes highly recommended by teachers

Typing Assistant 7.1 ( 45 day free trial after that $129!! for PC) is a good one to give to parents and homeusers as it’s a  word prediction tool that works on all software. Bug free it works well on your pc as a cheap alternative to more expensive products. is a free online typing programme that  gives typing practice to your pupils.

Capterra  provides a list of free, online speech recognition software that you can now get. All need internet access. The most effective one is SpeechLogger. Dragon Dictate which is not free! Is now version 13 but has had a mixed reception. I have found it OK myself and the floating toolbar is like the MAC version on the PC.  Dragon for MAC is still the most accurate version in my opinion.

SuperKeys – adapts the keyboard on an ipad to more accessible for CP and physically disabled users.

Clips (£free, IOS) create video and add titles to video content .

Sway (£free IOS , PC). Create stories, visual writing content

Office Lens (£free iOS) captures documents , cards and other image material processing them and giving you a wide range of options to store the material

Online annual subscription based software


MyChoicePad – great for TA’s to support communication as it provides a comprehensive learning program attached to it. Subscription based – resources for parents of young children with special needs as well as giving more and more activities

Chooseit Maker3 – ideal for pupils working at P levels to create your own resources and send out to all your ipad



The following apps have been specifically designed to support dyslexic users and although you have seen ClaroSpeak you might like to see the range of apps  and what they do.  Here is a brief synopsis and details of where you can find them and costs involved:-

Intowords– Reading – IntoWords reads the text aloud in a clear and easily understandable voice. You can choose between various reading strategies, e.g. to have the words highlighted as they are read (highlight function). In this way, you can easily keep up with the text. Writing – When writing yourself, IntoWords provides you with a word suggestion list for words that can continue your text. Double-click on a word suggestion to have it read aloud. IntoWords also helps you to spell. You can have the text read aloud while writing helping you to avoid spelling mistakes.

Co-WriterBE – is a writing tool that aids with phonetic/inventive spelling, grammar, and topic-related vocabulary. As letters are typed, Co:Writer predicts the intended word with a selection of word suggestions using powerful grammar-smart word prediction. These suggestions can be read aloud with a swipe. Selecting the intended word places it into the document. For feedback while writing (and after writing) built-in text to speech can be used to read letters, words, sentences, and the entire document

DocsPlus (Crick Software) word prediction tool with speech output. The vocabulary database can be changed from small to medium to large according the key stage of the individual. Words for prediction can be altered to have smaller or larger to suit the individual’s ability to spend time scanning text. In practise having a smaller list if easier for pupils to scan quickly which is important for fluency.Includes word banks and  mind mapping tools

Read&Write for Ipad  – Hear text read aloud with easy-to-follow on-screen highlighting. Speak As I Type.Word prediction Talking Dictionary and Picture Dictionary for use in any writing app, Spell checker, Read&Write web toolbar for Safari

ClaroSpeak – is a reading and writing app with high-quality text-to-speech, formatting controls, a wide range of fonts and styles and cloud storage integration. ClaroSpeak offers the option of visual highlighting in-sync with the spoken words, a great range of colour and font settings to allow for optimum reading and word prediction to help with writing. ClaroSpeak is a quality app for proofreading text through listening, helping with reading and literacy development and creating audio files from any text

CapturaTalk– combines Optical Character Recognition (OCR powered by ABBYY), text-to-speech, screen tint overlays and homophone checker,

VBookz PDF – free app that reads any PDF file and easy to use.

Popplet lite – simple effective mindmapping tool for organisation and logic links

Evernote – upgraded and very useful for situations where wifi is good and work will never be lost in the cloud.

Intowords accessed 1.12.2015

Co-writer accessed 1.12.2015

Read&write for ipad accessed 1.12.2015

Clarospeak  accessed 1.12.2015

Capturatalk accessed 1.12.2015

vBookz PDF –

Popplet lite

Evernote  –