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Bett2000 Thursday, 13 January, 2000, 17:58 GMT
Software helps special needs
Computer
The CD-Rom will help with learning difficulties
Software to help adults with special needs learn to cope with everyday tasks has been launched by the Princess Royal.

Princess Anne visited the BETT 2000 educational technology exhibition in London to see how the CD-Rom can help teach life skills to people with learning and behavioural difficulties.

She cut a virtual ribbon displayed on a large screen to officially launch the software, developed by Semerc, part of the Granada Learning Group.

The princess also chatted to people with learning difficulties who feature on the CD-Rom, called Out and About - Living in the Community.
Paul Nuttall
Paul Nuttall said there had been concern at the lack of appropriate learning materials for adults
The software is designed to teach a range of life skills to people with learning difficulties aged 14 and above, using real-life signs and symbols, graphics, photographs and videos.

Skills included in the package include basic numeracy, memory and concentration, problem-solving, and those needed to act appropriately in public.

Users are guided through a range of everyday activities, such as shopping, travelling, and eating at a restaurant, and have to use skills such as coin recognition, as they go along.

They also have to make decisions about what behaviour is appropriate and what is not - for example, whether opening a packet of crisps, tasting them, and then returning them to a supermarket shelf is acceptable or not.

Most software 'unsuitable for adults'

The software has been developed and produced by Semerc, in collaboration with Keele University and the Home Farm Trust, of which Princess Anne is patron.

The trust is a national charity which provides day care and residential services for people with learning disabilities.

Semerc's sales and marketing director, Paul Nuttall, who is a former primary school teacher and IT advisor, said most existing software for people with learning difficulties was aimed at younger schoolchildren, and was unsuitable for adults.

Bett2000
"For a number of years we were concerned that there was nothing really catering for older users," he said.

"Teaching the skills that the CD-Rom caters for in a classroom situation is almost impossible.

"It's all about giving people skills they need to survive in society. It can be used in schools or colleges, or in a social services or care situation."

Ann Aspinall, ITC Service Development Manager for the Home Farm Trust, said: "For years we have recognised that school software is unsuitable for adults.

"It uses childish things like teddy bears and big red buses with smiley faces. Our adults need graphics that are true to life and that reflect their maturity.

"The software has been greeted by everyone who has seen it as revolutionary. It uses proper video clips of places like Tesco or Little Chef, which users recognised from their own day-to-day lives."

The launch of a second CD-Rom in the Out and About series is planned for next year.

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