Disability specialist iansyst Ltd (www.dyslexic.com/home-access) and XMA (www.xma4ha.co.uk) have partnered to provide assistive technologies, training and support to disabled students across Oldham and Suffolk eligible for the Government’s Home Access pilot.
This new funding marks the Government’s dedication to providing disabled young people with equal access to ICT, and forms part of a wider commitment to supply 5 to 18 year-olds from low income families with access to a computer and internet connectivity at home. Disabled students are encouraged to apply for this additional funding through their school or Local Authority.
Some 80% of disabled students eligible for the grant will have a difficulty with reading or writing such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, general learning difficulties or a visual impairment. Current research demonstrates that ICT can be effective in helping students with literacy difficulties gain access to the curriculum and avoid falling behind; however, due to a lack of funding to date, technological assistance has largely been confined to the classroom.
Through the Home Access pilot, iansyst and XMA are now able to supply assistive technologies appropriately tailored to the individual needs of each student and provide the support they require to make good use of them. Capturing information electronically can be the key to helping learners with literacy problems access and interact with the curriculum at home.
It gives students greater independence and alleviates many difficulties with reading, writing, organisation and memory skills. Most important of all, the student can achieve immediate success which builds confidence. The provision of a computer and the internet at home also enables parents to get more involved in their child’s education and understand how to further support their learning, as well as to interact with web-based services and information in general.
Once identified, learners will be assessed by the local authority with help if necessary from iansyst’s team of disability experts, who will put together a package, personalised to their individual learning needs. The student will also be provided with training and receive additional ongoing support as required.
Ian Litterick, Executive Chairman at iansyst Ltd, comments: "In order to improve learning and help to bridge the digital divide, it is essential that disabled and dyslexic students have equal access to ICT at home and this is now achievable with personal assistive technology. For this technology to be truly beneficial however, students must be provided with adequate training and ongoing professional support which iansyst is dedicated to providing."
XMA’s Commercial Director, Ash Merchant, said: "We are delighted to be involved with the Home Access programme, which is being delivered by Becta. 1.5 million British school children have a special educational need such as Dyslexia and, if this pilot is successful, we are confident that we can improve the prospects of many children across the UK.
"We have over 20 years experience in the education market and we were one of the main suppliers of notebooks into schools under the Computers for Pupils initiative (CfP). We have already delivered in excess of 40,000 notebooks into authorities such as Liverpool, Manchester, Blackburn with Darwen and Derby City over the last 24 months and we are looking forward to working with Becta again on this pilot programme."
Stephen Crowne, Chief Executive of Becta said: "Ensuring learners with special educational needs are supported by the Home Access Programme is important, and credit must go to the hard work of our partners in achieving this. As part of Becta’s Next Generation Learning campaign, Home Access will help to ensure every learner has an equal chance to tap into the benefits of the internet and explore the important role that technology can play in our everyday life at home and school."
The Home Access programme is due to roll-out nationally from late autumn 2009 with the overall vision of ensuring that all children aged 5 to 19 have access to a computer and internet connectivity at home by 2011.
For further information and advice about how to help your students apply, please visit www.homeaccess.org.uk or visit www.xma4ha.co.uk for further details.