The disruption from policy changes and rampant technology advances presents a unique challenge for the UK's special needs community, says Martin Littler

AMDiInnovative iPad case for SEN from AMDi“We have just bought 40 iPads – what can we do with them?” came as a surprise question from the special school head. At Inclusive Technology we have had many similar queries since, and our American company, Inclusive TLC, hears the same from school boards in the States.

The iPad has probably had as much impact on educational ICT spending as school budget cuts or the strangulation of local authority SEN services by Academies and Free Schools. But between them these three phenomena have caused a 'perfect storm' for assistive technology companies.

Communication aids are crucial tools in special needs education. John Galloway reviews a welcome newcomer – Smooth Talker
Smooth TalkerThe Smooth Talker: clarity and versatilityAs a simple communication aid the new Smooth Talker, from Inclusive Technology, is a welcome development in two ways. For a start there is the sound quality, which is less muffled than its predecessors, providing a crispness and clarity that will make expression and understanding easier. Then there's its versatility.

Devices such as this have been with us for a while. The Big Mac, for instance, offers a quick and simple way for an adult to record a message that a child can replay with one press of the button. This works well for those who are non-verbal, so they can join in activities – registration for instance. A quick "Here, miss," or "Good afternoon, everyone," and the pupil with a speech disability is put on the same footing as the rest of the class.

Crunch time for veteran education brands as bidding closes for Logotron assets
The fate of one of the UK's oldest and most respected special-needs ICT brands, Widget Software, could be decided this week. The closing deadline for bids for the assets of Logotron Ltd, which include the world renowned creator of the Widgit Symbols set for literacy and inclusion, passed at midday on Wednesday August 31.

Liquidator Begbies Traynor, the commpany handling the sale to maximise the value of the assets to distribute funds (minus costs) to Logotron creditors, says: “The most desirable outcome would be that all three divisions are sold to purchasers who will keep the businesses going, preserve the supply chain and save some jobs.”

Cate and Tina DetheridgeCate and Tina Detheridge: 'We're back'The future of one of the UK's oldest special needs brands, Widgit Software, has finally been secured following a round of bidding for the assets of parent company Logotron.

While liquidators Begbies Traynor will not issue a statement until the disposal of all Logotron assets is finalised, it is understood that a consortium which includes the originial Widgit founders, the Detheridge family, and Terry Johnson, former partner in the successful US symbol company Mayer-Johnson, has signed a contract for the Widgit brand and assets.

Rory Bremner, Christina WellsChristina Wells: 'fed up with the cuts'

Sally McKeown kept a brief for for SEN and ICT at the TES Schools Awards

There I was drinking champagne before midday at the Hilton in Park Lane, London. I was attending the TES Schools Awards and was the guest of Real Training, sponsors of the Outstanding Special Needs School of the Year Award.

Imagine my delight when I found that three of the six schools shortlisted for the Special School of the Year Award appear in my forthcoming book Brilliant Ideas for using ICT in the Inclusive Classroom which I wrote with training expert Angie McGlashon. It seems we have a talent for spotting the best practitioners!