Accessible and inclusive blended learning – Apple feature overview

Screenshot of Apple Speak feature

In the latest of our series of blog posts on accessibility in blended learning, we’re taking a dive into Apple’s features, looking at what’s on offer and how you might use them in class. 

Who needs these features? Just about everyone

First, some context. According to official UK government published data, 3.3% of pupils in England have EHCP; an additional 12.1% receive SEN support. That’s one in seven pupils, and this number is rising. The most common need for pupils with an EHCP is linked to autistic spectrum disorders (more than 29% of pupils) and the most common need for pupils accessing SEN support is speech, communication and language needs.

According to Mencap, more than 350,000 children aged 0-17 have learning disability, a definition that covers a smaller subset of children and is narrower than SEN. 

There are three potential groups when considering accessibility:

  • Pupils with a statement – a full provision plan of support, often called an EHCP. Most statements are provided to support pupils with autism (more than 29%). 
  • Pupils at school action/school action plus – school has identified an additional need and may have targeted support in place (teaching assistants, pupil on SEN register). Most pupils in this category have a language and communication need (more than 65%).
  • Both of the above groups account for 14% (1:7) of pupils with a diagnosed need.
  • Pupils with no diagnosis. This does not mean there is not a need. They may have an unrecognised need – either temporary, progressive or permanent. This is made up of 86% of pupils.

Some learners may have an undiagnosed need and they may also be unaware themselves. They will be reliant on adults around them to identify their need.

Some pupils/students will have developed coping/masking strategies for their need, perhaps because they are the first person aware of a change in circumstance and are not willing or not sure how this could be shared with anyone else. 

However, it is important to understand that most pupils/students will have some form of additional need at some stage in their education. It could be for a whole range of different reasons, such as changing vision as they grow, a temporary fracture or break or temporary medical intervention such as the fitting of grommets. 

In addition, many of the features that are labeled as ‘accessibility’ features are potentially useful to anyone – who doesn’t need more focus on the task in hand…? And, of course, these are skills that are useful for the modern workplace beyond academic skills.

Apple’s accessibility features – overview

Here’s a brief rundown of a selection of the features you’ll find on Apple devices. They do vary across device type and model and so this page is the essential guide you need for detailed support for different types of device. 

Features for vision:

  • VoiceOver – a screen reader that describes what’s happening on your device so you can navigate by listening and performing gestures.
  • Text size – system wide for partial sightedness, degenerative eye conditions, ease of use and putting distance between screen and eye
  • Zoom –  increases the size of information on the screen
  • Magnification – can be used to increase the size of information of physical objects. It offers benefits for accessing information in worksheets, text books, images and small objects.
  • Changing display – brightness, dark mode, reducing motion for visual comfort
  • Colour filters – changing overlay for visual comfort, reducing eye strain, supporting pupils with dyslexia or visual diagnosis

Features for hearing:

  • Live listen – fine tuning hearing aids or AirPods to hear more clearly during class, or using an iPad’s built-in mic to amplify a conversation 
  • Headphone accommodations – customise headphones ot hearing needs

Features for physical and motor skills:

  • Voice control – navigate a device using voice alone
  • Switch control – assistive technology with built-in features as well as functionality for switches, a joystick or other adaptive devices to control what’s on screen so you can interact with it without touching it

Features for focus:

  • Reader view – removes distracting content, improves tracking, offers multi-modal access to information. Change font, change size of text, change background colour – click on settings for advanced options. Reader view can be made persistent with every page automatically adapting to reader view if possible.
  • Guided access – can enable iPad to lock in single app, such as Notes, Keynote, Pages and disable parts of screen depending on app. If an app’s in locked guided access mode then the usual methods of exiting do not apply (swipe, double click home button, five digit pull)
  • Spoken content – Go from text to speech with Speak screen. Control speech playback with Speech controller. Or use Speak selection to have a specific range of text read to you. Then follow along as Highlight content highlights words or sentences as they’re spoken. 

Coming up

Thursday 20 May is Global Accessibility Awareness day and there’s a whole host of events to mark it, all listed on the Global Accessibility Awareness day website.

Among them is Apple’s virtual event at 4-5pm (BST) to explore the power of the accessibility features built into Apple technology. In this session Apple will demonstrate the key features on iPad and Mac which support each of the accessibility categories — vision, hearing, motor and cognitive. You will hear personal stories about how Apple technology has helped transform people’s lives, helping to inspire and bring equitable education to schools and classrooms — no matter where and how the learning happens. There will be a British Sign Language interpreter available as a guide throughout the virtual event.

Plus, Aspire 2Be is running a four-day accessibility festival from Monday 17 May with 12 online events focusing on the effective use of Apple technology for equity and inclusivity in education. A variety of events will identify theory, tools and tips around Apple accessibility tools to ensure inclusivity and positive outcomes for every learner.

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Upcoming CPD

Maths and digital technology forum for primary teachers
Maths and digital technology forum for primary teachers

The maths forum provides an opportunity for maths subject leaders to share their expertise and investigate new opportunities for digital technologies to support maths teaching and learning in class and online at home. The forum combines discussion with colleagues about school-wide progress in mathematics, with hands-on activities led by a CLC teacher, demonstrating how technology can be used to support maths. Activities will include programming in Scratch 3, which offers a practical way to illustrate and explore key mathematical concepts such as shape, space, position and direction.

- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...
Using technology to enhance assessment and feedback in primary schools
Using technology to enhance assessment and feedback in primary schools

Discover how digital technology can change the way we assess pupils’ work. We will demonstrate how teachers can use technology to monitor, evidence and respond to pupils’ progress in school and learning online remotely, and how pupils can use technology to present and reflect on their learning. We will outline a range of approaches to help assess and evidence learning across the curriculum.

- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Computing subject leaders, Headteachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
- 14:25

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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