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SuperNova

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Read the transcript of video: Embedding SuperNova in your school

My name is Marie Scott and I'm a team leader for visual impairment in County Durham.

My brief is to work with children and young people, from birth – nineteen.

We have four qualified teachers, ten full time specialist support assistants, a full time resource officer and a full time rehab officer. We work very much in an integrated setting, we support children here within our resource base and we have three mainstream schools on the same site – an infant, a junior and a comprehensive school.

Within the mainstream schools we support twenty children at the moment, who have visual loss ranging from a level of 6/36 to children who use Braille as a medium of communication. We have equally as many students with significant needs in the local mainstream schools, and Durham is a very big rural county, so these students are spread far and wide in the local community schools. So we do outreach work and the staff will work across the phases in outreach and in the resource bases. Each year we decide where the need is and the staff will work in those particular areas.

Many years ago we decided that we needed to look at what software we used for the students, bearing in mind that we had students all over the county, and we had blind students as well as partially sighted students. Rather than using a variety of different software, we decided that we would use one, specialist software as a basis. SuperNova meets the needs of our blind children as well as our partially sighted children, so that was the basis for using SuperNova.

The children are supported from a very early age with the support staff in learning how to use magnification and listening to the speech with SuperNova. At about the age of seven the children are taught to touch type, and then start to use SuperNova to prepare some long pieces of written work. This continues obviously through the junior school, where the children have their own individual laptops, and are able to be much more independent in their learning.

Because we teach them keystrokes or hotkeys, again this makes it much quicker and easier for them to find their way around the screen whether they’re blind or partially sighted, and the speed of using the software is much quicker. I think this is more evident now in the comprehensive school where our students take the laptops into lessons and staff can download whatever work sheets they have. They put it onto a memory stick straight onto the student’s laptop, and the students can then use SuperNova to either enlarge it on screen or fill in worksheets, or to listen to the content of the information. They can access the information at the same time as the other students.

From a student point of view, I think they found it much quicker, it’s very discreet, and they can use their earpieces with the speech so it’s not interrupting anyone else. We've taught the students to use a variety of hotkeys for magnification, for speech, for line reading – things that make it very specific to their needs. These hotkeys are displayed around the school in the Network Suites so that the mainstream staff can help support the students if they forget the keys that they should be using. Also it helps the mainstream staff to take a bit more ownership and interest in what the students are doing.

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