Thursday 21 April 2016

Inclusive Technology wins Queen's Award for Enterprise 2016

Inclusive Technology/HelpKidzLearn wins 2016 Queen’s Award for Enterprise for its online special educational needs solutions.

Oldham-based Inclusive Technology, provider of learning technologies supporting children with special educational needs, is delighted to announce that it has received the most prestigious business award in the UK – the Queen’s Award for Enterprise 2016 – putting Oldham at the heart of assistive technology innovation in the world in the year when HM The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday and the 50th year of the awards.

The award is specifically for International Trade and focuses on the company’s online product HelpKidzLearn - a collection of software for young children and those with learning difficulties - and the impact it has had on special education in the UK, United States and 148 other countries.

Inclusive Technology’s aim is to provide IT resources that help learners with more severe special needs and disabilities to communicate, learn and enjoy a more independent life. It specialises in developing accessible software for children with severe learning disabilities (SLD), profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD) or those without speech who need alternative or augmentative communication (AAC) who perhaps can only make a single voluntary movement or sound. By providing the alternative keyboards, joysticks, rollerballs, switches and touch screens these learners may need – including eye-gaze technology, a way of accessing a computer simply by looking at the screen – Inclusive Technology resources can transform the learning experiences of these young people.

HelpKidzLearn has 25,000 subscribers in 148 countries who use the software free of charge. An enhanced version of the service is then available on paid subscription for special schools around the world, with more than 70 per cent of subscribers in 32 overseas markets. The United States is the largest user of HelpKidzLearn with 53% percent of world revenues. Together with its associated resource ChooseIt! Maker 3, which allows teachers to make personalised learning apps and download them to an iPad or Android tablet – HelpKidzLearn has a presence in 48 of the 50 US States. In Europe the company now has 21 dealers in 14 countries and their resources are available in eight local languages - Catalan, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish, as well as American English.

“I am absolutely delighted with this brilliant award, which I feel recognises the huge contribution that the whole British assistive technology industry has made during the past 40 years,” said Martin Littler, Chairman and CEO, Inclusive Technology.

“Of course the Award is also a huge pat on the back for our team of developers, teachers and therapists, all of whom get a buzz from producing resources which can transform the lives of learners with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

“As is traditional, the Awards are announced on the Queen’s birthday – April 21st. With this year being her 90th birthday it is interesting to reflect that pretty well the whole development of the computers which have enriched our lives, and transformed the lives of many with disabilities, have taken place in the 64 years of Her Majesty’s reign.”

Inclusive Technology has been based in Oldham, Lancashire since its formation in 1996 and currently has 30 employees.

Martin Littler and his managing director Sukhjit Gill will collect the award at a Buckingham Palace reception on July 14, 2016.

In the meantime messages of congratulations have been pouring into the offices in Huddersfield Road.

Professor Peter Mittler, CBE, Emeritus Professor of Special Needs Education, University of Manchester, said; “Inclusive was ahead of the game 20 years ago; today it’s the world leader.”

Anna Reeves, Manager, ACE Centre for assistive technology and augmentative communication services for the North of England, North Wales and Northern Ireland, said; “Having seen the impact of their considerable contribution to the field of assistive technology supporting learning for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities in this country and overseas, this Award is a fitting tribute to their legacy. I know this Award will continue to motivate Inclusive Technology to produce high quality resources for special education schools and settings and many more children and young people will continue to develop and achieve in their education as a consequence.”

Dr Caroline Musselwhite Ed.D. CCC/SLP American author and inclusion expert, added her congratulations saying; “Access + Engagement = Success! Inclusive Technology and HelpKidzLearn have consistently provided high-quality creative supports for students who struggle with access. Their mission to offer free and low-cost materials, including online formats means that ALL students can enjoy their products. A well-deserved award for a fantastic team!”

To learn more about HelpKidzLearn visit our website:

Wednesday 13 April 2016

What is so different about Eye Gaze?

Eye gaze technology is perhaps the most exciting, innovative and important piece of assistive technology to hit the special needs classroom in decades. In one way, eye gaze should be seen as just another potential access method for those with physical disabilities.

In practice, we are seeing users of other access devices, particularly switch users, generally finding eye gaze access quicker, easier, less fatiguing (more so with practice) and a lot less

A Shift from Switches to Eye Gaze
This is particularly important for AAC users, where speed and flexibility are important factors in communication. We have seen a huge shift to individuals using eye gaze to access communication software that once used switch access. With a massive drop in the price of eye gaze technology in recent years, we are beginning to see special schools and services around the globe adopt eye gaze devices to complement their fully inclusive, accessible classrooms and resource kits. We are starting to see schools use eye gaze more creatively, and use it with a range of their favorite software and websites, not just with specialist eye gaze titles. However, eye gaze does differ from other access devices - it can be used as an OUTPUT device and used to control, but we can also, with the right software, use it to gain insight into what is INPUT, i.e. the information the student is processing visually.

Observe what our Students See
Eye gaze technology has been used in this way for many years in the research field, but it is only now we are able to use this technology in the classroom to give teachers and therapists objective and functional feedback and analysis on students' looking behaviours. With the right tools we can start to observe what our students see, attend to and track on screen; what they notice and don’t notice, what they prefer to look at and what sense they make of what they see. These are fundamental skills that most of us have not had the tools to assess or look at in detail before now. Such understanding of our most complex students could lead to changes in our teaching practice and open up wider opportunities for our students to interact and engage.

Eye Gaze Competition
With this in mind HelpKidzLearn is giving you the opportunity to enter a Facebook Competition to WIN an Inclusive EyeGaze Education Bundle - If you wish to enter and try eye gaze and the opportunities it provides, click here: