School books for everyone in Portugal.
'School books for everyone' is the focus of a new initiative in Portugal. The General Directorate for Innovation and Curricular Development in Portugal, the Vodafone Foundation and Porto Editora Publisher have been working together to develop a new inclusively designed tool.
The project aims at the production of digitalized schoolbooks for pupils who are blind or have low vision using a system that synchronizes the sound of the human voice, text and digitalized images. The objective is to give pupils with different forms of visual impairment greater access to the national curriculum.
The system works in the multimedia DAISY format for digital talking books. Using it, pupils can listen to a computer generated voice and they can "read" with the help of an interface that is formatted to meet their specific needs.
The version used in this Project also includes a full translation of the software into Portuguese so that the installation programme, prompt files and so on are all accessible for Portuguese pupils.
At present, History, Science, French, English and Portuguese grammar and compulsory reading books are available. The aim is to support pupils with visual impairments, particularly in relation to their access to higher education. However, the shared exploration of the information either in a classroom or in the family environment is improved as well by using this tool. In fact, the simultaneous display of sound, images and text makes it possible for everyone to use this system, which makes it a genuinely inclusively designed tool.
At the end of the school year an evaluation of the outcomes will take place, focusing on different aspects: acceptance of the format by pupils and teachers; impact on the learning process; production costs in view of alternative approaches. This will provide useful information for a decision to be made about the suitability of the system and, should the decision be positive, it will also provide valuable indications for future improvements in the possible use of the tool.
For more information about the project, please contact Filomena Pereira (email link) - Agency Representative Board member for Portugal.