The Karten Network July 2016 Newsletter
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Karten Network July 2016 Newsletter

Network Development Co-ordinator’s Update

As I write the sun is blazing down at last and I suspect that many of you will be preparing for a very well-earned summer break.  So much has happened since the last newsletter and I am indebted to all of you who have hosted visits or been in touch with me.  It has been a complete privilege to have been involved with so many centres and to have the opportunity to see at first hand the amazing work you are doing.  I am trying to proactively support, share and celebrate the diversity and excellence across the Network via Twitter and Facebook.  This is easy to do during my visits, but if you Tweet any news of interest using the Twitter handle @kartennetwork I will retweet to our followers.  Please continue to encourage your colleagues, service users and friends to follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook too.

Since my last update, I have visited 16 centres in the UK and have visits to a further 6 centres planned for next week.  I also visited our Karten Centres in Israel – see report later on.  It is clear that across the educational, health and care sectors there are significant commissioning pressures and that is having an impact on the services organisations can deliver.  The political uncertainty associated with Brexit will not make things any easier in the short-term.  However, what is evident is the determination and commitment from highly skilled practitioners, leaders and experts to continue to do the very best for the people they support.  That resilience and passion has been evident in every organisation that I have engaged with.

We have 6 very strong funding applications from the UK and one from Israel to be taken to the Trustees’ meeting in September.  For those of you who wish to apply for additional funding, the next opportunity is in March 2017.  Deadlines for submissions will be mid-January and the date will be communicated nearer the time.

We have the dates and venues organised for the 2016 Network events and I hope these events will be well-supported and of significant benefit to those who attend.  Martin Pistorius is working hard behind the scenes to develop a new website which will be launched at the Networks.  More detail and booking arrangements to follow.

Shortly after I returned from Israel, my husband and I did the Louise Smalley Walk, a 41 mile charity walk for Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice.  I wasn’t at my fittest, but managed to complete the route in a little over 12 hours so I was happy with that.  It is always good to raise money for such worthy causes. 
Dawn completing the Louise Smalley Walk
I have been humbled by some of the fundraising challenges I have heard about in organisations across the Network.  There are so many special people doing such fabulous work!

In addition to my Karten work, I have been working as Interim Principal for a specialist school for autistic children.  So like you I am now ready for a holiday.  I just have the funding applications to prepare for Trustees and then I will be heading off somewhere nice and quiet with a couple of novels in my suitcase.  Whatever you are doing this summer, I hope you have a fabulous one and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Update from Mobile Technology Advisor

Summertime, for many of the organisations within the Karten Network marks a time to enjoy some well-earned rest, to reflect on all that was achieved, the lessons learned and to start thinking about the future. Apple and Google at their respective developer conferences have announced what they have install for the coming year.

From Google we can expect to see a faster more secure version of Android, codenamed Nougat. This latest version amongst many improvements and new features such as multi-window Support, enhanced notifications and new emojis also has an improved accessibility features. Vision settings are now also directly on the Welcome screen for new device setup.

Looking a bit further into the future, Android Nougat supports integration with Google’s new mobile Virtual Reality platform, Daydream. It will be exciting to see what evolves from Daydream in the next year or two.

A Project Ara phone
There have been more developments on Google’s Project Ara – aimed at developing a modular smartphone. This system would allow you to easily interchange components rather than purchasing a new phone. A beta version of this is expected to be released later this year.

Google also announced “Android Instant Apps” which allows people to access apps, or strictly speaking a part of an app that they need to complete a task without actually installing an app. This opens up a number of possibilities for both users and developers and hints at a potential change to how all the major app stores will function in the future. Apple too has announced changes to its app store model recently.

Allo and Duo apps
Lastly, Google announced two new apps, Allo and Duo, available for Android and iOS in the coming months. Allo is a feature rich messenger app with an accompanying intelligent chat bot. While it may be a little unnerving to have an artificial intelligence helper as part of your conversations, it is expected that this will make conversations quicker and easier – time will tell. Allo is associated with a mobile number so no Google account will be needed to use it, this does however mean, at least for now it is limited to mobile phones only.

Duo is Google’s video chat app, similar to Apple’s Facetime app. Duo was built by the same team that created WebRTC (Web Real-Time Communication) and is reported to have extremely good video compression and data handling allowing calls to made even on low bandwidth networks. Duo’s has an easy to use interface and a feature called "Knock Knock" that allows the person you’re calling to see a video preview of you before they even answer. As with Allo, Duo is associated with a mobile number so no Google account will be needed to use it.

From Apple we can expect to see improvements to Apple Watch. WatchOS 3 introduces a new Dock for easier access to apps and the ability to launch apps instantly. Navigation has been improved and there is a new Control Center. But most significantly, for the first time ever wheelchair users are specifically catered for. WatchOS 3 measures wheelchair pushes contributing to all-day calorie goals and "time to roll" instead of "time to stand" notifications.Apple WatchOS3 wheelchair support

Apple unveiled iOS 10, described by Apple CEO Tim Cook as the "biggest release ever". A large number of improvements were made to apps, services, Messages, Siri, Photos, Maps, Apple Music, News, Apple Pay, Control Center etc. The Lock screen has been redesigned with 3D-touch enabled notifications. Messages have been improved to include background animations, bubble effects, rich links, annotate photos and videos, hidden "invisible ink" messages and predictive emoji.

It's also now possible to delete almost all pre-installed apps that are unneeded – although technically speaking they are hidden rather than deleted.

The keyboard in iOS 10 now has contextual predictions making intelligent suggestions based on information like location and calendar availability or contacts.

Apple announced a number of accessibility improvements. tvOS used in Apple TV is now switch accessible.

New display and colour adjustments including the option to tint the entire display on a Mac, Apple TV, and iOS device, has been added. This increases the contrast and reading ability.

Taptic Time is a new VoiceOver feature on watchOS 3 uses a series of distinct vibrations to silently and discreetly help someone tell the time.

iOS 10 has a new Magnifier feature that enables someone to use the camera to magnify objects in their physical environment. Various colour filters can be enabled to increase contrast of the image.

iOS 10 now allows for Software TTY calls to be placed without any additional hardware. In addition to a new built-in TTY-specific QuickType keyboard and predictions. Finally, Improvements have been made in iOS 10 to Speak Selection and Speak Screen.

iOS 10 is expected to be released later this year. However, there are already significant changes in iOS 9.3, most notably the focus on new features and tools specifically designed to support education. This primarily consists of, Apple School Manager, Managed Apple IDs, Shared iPad, and the new Classroom app.

The Classroom app (available in the App Store) is a new iPad app that is installed on the teacher’s iPad and uses a combination of Bluetooth and wireless to guide learning, share work and manage student devices.

Apple School Manager, a web portal of tools hosted by Apple that enables you to support the deployment, use and management of Apple devices. It also allows you to create Managed Apple ID’s. These are designed to meet the needs of educational institutions and are owned and controlled by each school/college. Apple Classroom

The new Shared iPad feature which enables multiple students to share the same iPad using their Managed Apple ID. This functionality is enabled as part of the device enrolment process and most probably used in combination with your Mobile Device Management (MDM) system. Ideally with a local OS X Server's Caching Server. There is still some uncertainly in practice how many users can truly be supported per device due to storage constraints, especially if the Managed Apple ID iCloud accounts are limited to 5GB of storage each.

Whether an attempt to counter Google’s rapidly growing market share, particularly with the use of Chromebooks in the US educational setting, or purely an initiative driven by Apple CEO Tim Cook one thing is clear, the changes in iOS 9.3 and iOS 10 marks a significant change to support the use of iPads within the educational context.

It would be great if there are centres that could share their experience and any resources they have with Apple Education and Mobile Device Management systems. These would be a welcome addition to the Karten Network Mobile Technology Resource. Or you can email me directly:

Better folding at TreloarPrint

Treloar College’s very successful and popular print enterprise was very pleased to receive a brand spanking new folding machine last year.  Our old Morgana folding machine (a ‘Major’ folder), whilst well engineered and very fast, proved to be very fiddly to set up and extremely noisy in use – to the extent that our health and safety team were very concerned about noise levels and hearing damage.  As a result, we requested, and very gratefully received, a grant enabling us to purchase Morgana’s ‘DigiFold Pro’ machine – notably more capable and easier to control with a touch-screen interface, and considerably quieter. 

However, Morgana were understanding of our needs and recommended that we upgrade this machine for a brand new model soon to be released – the DigiFold Pro 385 – which we intend to do. Both the Pro and the Pro 385 enable us to fold much heavier stock (e.g. for greetings cards) and the pre-creasing these machines perform produces a much higher quality product – well appreciated by our many customers.  Things like heavyweight 3-fold leaflets are now a cinch to produce, and really look the business!

Whilst the Pro model is good, and a notable improvement on the original Major model, it is not perfect. The touch-screen control is at the rear of the machine, so almost all of our students cannot physically use it and have to direct an assistant, and it is hard for some to read.  The machine also works by ‘floating’ a stack of paper or card on a cushion of air and suctioning in the bottom sheet for folding – this process involves some hefty fans and considerable noise, albeit less than the Major model.

The Pro 385 model, to be released in late May or June 2016, should be notably better again. It should handle a much larger stack of paper or card, separating only the top few sheets before suctioning in the top sheet for folding. This will mean less physical continuous loading of the machine and less noise – both good news.  Also, we understand that the touch-screen control panel will be mounted at the front of the machine – much better for accessibility.

We are very pleased with our new folding machine, and are very appreciative of the grant that has enabled its purchase.  We are looking forward to swapping it to the more accessible Pro 385, which should serve us well for many years – thank you, once again, Ian Karten!

Student Yaffa working with Technician Megan to control the Morgana DigiFold Pro folding machine
Student Yaffa working with Technician Megan to control the Morgana DigiFold Pro folding machine. Yaffa is fully able to understand how the machine works, but cannot access the controls without directing an assistant. Yaffa is interested in setting up her own small design and print enterprise, and has already developed useful skills in using templates to produce a range of greetings cards for local artists. Being aware of the capabilities of this machine is very helpful in terms of preparing her for future employment.

Rob training a new assistant in the use of the DigiFold Pro folding machineFormer student, and now employee, Rob training a new assistant in the use of the DigiFold Pro folding machine. This is a complex machine, but Rob is fully able to understand its use, all the settings and adjustments needed, and is able to direct others very accurately to complete jobs. The control panel can be clearly seen at the rear of this machine, and the clarity of this interface is very helpful in enabling all users to understand it.

Thanks to Jewish Care

Jewish Care are in the process of redeveloping their digital provision and services. As part of this process they recently identified 2 high quality printers that were surplus to requirements. I am happy to say that the printers were offered to Centres in the Network and were almost immediately re-homed. They are now on the way to Karten Centres where they will continue to be used and add value to the service users' experiences.

In the current financial climate it would be great if other organisations would consider the reallocation of equipment that is no longer of use to them.  Just drop an email to and I'll do whatever I can to assist.

Trip to Israel

A visit to Israeli Centres took place between 13 – 15 June.  Karten Representatives included Debbie Ben-Tal; Dawn Green; Tim Simon.  The following report summarises the visit programme and provides a flavour of the work going on within the Karten CTEC Centres.


Chimes was founded in 1991 to work with adults with learning difficulties.  Initially 80 adults accessed the provision, but this has increased over the years and Chimes now provides services for in excess of 1400 people from 6 months of age through to the elderly.  They offer a range of services including therapeutic services, family support, after school provision (age 6 – 21), vocational services, supported employment, supported community/independent living and adult day care services.  Chimes works with people with learning and physical difficulties and mental ill-health issues.

A presentation was given to cover the timeline for implementation of Chimes’ Karten project.  Equipment was ordered in June 2014, installed in July 2014 and in August that year technology specific training was provided for staff to ensure they had the necessary skills to support the students.  Delivery started shortly afterwards.  There are 44 students aged between 21 – 59 accessing the Centre.  We visited a number of groups making good use of Karten funded equipment.

Centre for Deaf Blind

We visited the Karten room, which had been subdivided into 2 smaller rooms to meet the clients’ and teachers’ needs.  The work that was going on within the Centre was highly intensive and specialist.  Tactile sign language was being used to explain what the teacher wanted the client needed to do next.  Specialist facilities included Zoomtext, JAWS, COBRA, CCTV, magnifiers, synthetic speech and translation packages.  We also visited the weekly signing club.  This evening the attendees were hearing news updates (tragically about the Orlando killings).

CDB’s other centre in the North of the country is temporarily closed due to a number of challenges: security problems, meaning that teachers were unable or in the circumstances, not willing to travel to the area, as well as problems with the internet not working However, CDB hope this service will resume after Ramadan.

Migdal Or

Migdal Or provides services for people with a range of visual impairments and blindness.  The VI rehabilitation teams prioritise intervention and support based on the level of need and impact on the individual’s daily life.  Rehabilitation focuses on orientation and mobility and activities of daily living and vocational rehabilitation is specific to work and school.

Migdal Or staff told us about services they offer in Be’er Sheva, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.  The Karten funded equipment is currently located in the premises we visited in Be’er Sheva although they are currently seeking a more permanent base and will keep us informed of related developments.  The centre has a very comprehensive range of specialist hardware and software – NVDA, Windows Eyes, JAWS, COBRA, Braille keyboards, CCTV, magnifiers, touch screens, speech engines and screen readers.

The team described how the Karten footprint in Be’er Sheva had enabled them to successfully identify this location as the site for a new Low Vision Clinical Service – a ONE STOP SHOP for people with visual impairment.  Comparable, well-established clinics already exist in Haifa and Tel Aviv.  The facilities include optometrists, social workers, assessment and loan kit, support and guidance.  Recommendations for equipment helps people to secure funding from social security and the Government.

Ono Academic College

Ono Academic College is a HE institute but not a university as it does not offer higher (Doctoral degrees).  Ono proactively promotes engagement from a wide range of cultures, faiths, disabilities and ethnic groups.  Ono has successfully increased participation and inclusion from previously under-represented groups and offers provision where people from different communities and backgrounds mix and work alongside each other for the first time.  Ono seeks to remove barriers to learning and identify what people need in order to realise their potential and achieve success.

Tim & Debbie at Ono

Services include: OT; Psychology; Mentoring; Counselling; Consulting Assistive Technologist; advice on disability rights; workshops e.g. strategies for coping with exam stress etc.  The support offered by the Assistive Technologist includes individual consultation and assessment sessions, help with using the libraries, assistance with AT in exams and the loan of AT equipment.

We visited the IT suite funded by the Karten Trust.  The equipment was in good order and is well-used although there were no learners present when we visited.  Learners can access the suite for supported-self study where they get on with assignments or research.

During our visit we were introduced to the Roim Rachok programme.  High functioning autistic students can often have special capabilities, and in collaboration with the army individuals are screened and assessed for their visual capabilities which can then be used and further developed in a military context.  Karten funded laptops are used in this programme and so far approximately 200 people have been involved in the project.


Tim with the IsrALS OT team
A general discussion over dinner.  This included IsrALS specific work and other work that the OTs are involved with.  The impact of the Karten funded equipment is very clear in this context.  Without the equipment it would be impossible for the team to assess the needs of the individuals they support.  The model whereby they visit the homes of the people on their caseload is very interesting and changes the relationship they have with their patient and their family.  The emotional pressures of this role were evident, however it is clear that the OT becomes a “lifeline” for the individual and their family throughout their ALS journey.  Quite simply the work of this team is unique and remarkable!


Shalva has been in operation for over 25 years and was founded by the Samuels family following the birth of their own son Yossi.  From then the journey and the development have been transformational to the lives of so many youngsters and their families.  We started our visit by a tour of the existing premises and then went on to visit their spectacular, purpose built facilities – a $54 million new build due to open in September 2016. Shalva's new building
Named Shalva National Center, the facilities will allow for a 400% increase in operational activity and associated business development and diversification opportunities.  The existing premises were impressive as was the range of programmes and interventions in operation, but the scale and scope of the new build was mind blowing!  The scale of development, facilities provided, commitment and aspiration of the executive team were all highly impressive and this will become an International Centre of Excellence, actively supported by the government.

Shalva's outdoor play space
Shalva’s programmes currently cover the 0 – 21 age range, with 500 youngsters a week accessing the services.  Services include Me and my Mommy; Rehabilitative Day Care; Inclusive Early Childhood Centre; After School Clubs; Overnight & Weekend Respite; Summer Camps.

The Virtual Reality and Technology Room will be the site for Shalva’s Karten project.  We are expecting an application from Shalva imminently.  The basis of the application will be the development and implementation of a virtual reality programme called Vocational Interview Training Agents (VITA) Shalva.  During our visit, we were shown to the room where the Karten funded activity will be installed and implemented.

The short space of time I spent in Israel with Tim and Debbie was busy and intensely work focused. Nonetheless, I had the opportunity to see lots of Israel as we travelled between centres. It was a fantastic experience and gave me a much improved understanding of the work of the Israeli Centres and the challenges and opportunities they face. On our way back to the airport, Tim Simon (Chair of the Board of Trustees for the Ian Karten Charitable Trust) showed me around Jerusalem Old City. Tim was a superb "tour guide" and I had an amazing and memorable experience, I thought I would include a non-work related picture for your enjoyment.
Jerusalem Old City

App Update – Keyboards

Windows, Android and iOS mobile devices all have reasonably good onscreen keyboard. Many of them include basic accessibility feature and prediction. However, there are a number of keyboard apps that could enhance and improve the access and use of mobile onscreen keyboards.
On-screen keyboard iconsThe most popular apps are:

  • The Grid, available for Windows devices – highly customisable and includes prediction, many access and configuration options.
  • SuperKeys, available for iOS devices – winner of a Bett award in 2016 is customisable and includes intelligent prediction.
  • SwiftKey, available for iOS and Android devices – can be used either by typing or dragging your finger across the keys. SwiftKey has some of the best intelligent prediction available and a number of configuration options.
    (Be sure to visit to see some other interesting apps)  
  • Click2Speak, available for Windows devices – innovative keyboard developed in Israel with prediction powered by SwiftKey. Click2Speak has close connections to the Karten Network and we hope to have more collaboration in future. 
  • Swype, available for Windows, Android and iOS devices – features intelligent prediction and best known for “swyping” dragging your finger across the keys to type. You can also type normally.
  • Keeble, available for iOS devices – highly customisable and includes prediction, many access and configuration options.

Which keyboard apps do you use? Do you have any tips or resources that could be shared with the network? Please either do so by adding them to the Mobile Technology Resource, or sending me an email:

Karten CTEC at The Grange, Bookham

The Grange in Bookham, Surrey is a forward thinking organisation supporting people with disabilities to live independent and fulfilling lives. It offers accommodation, care support and a wide range of skills training, including IT.

Set on a beautiful site in Surrey in a converted Edwardian mansion, The Grange has a long history, having started life as ‘The School of Stitchery and Lace’ in 1938 – one the first training schools for people with disabilities. The Grange’s previous IT training facilities were limited and long overdue for an update, until Karten stepped in last year and supported the creation of a new state-of-the-art media suite the ‘Karten CTEC Centre’ located on the first floor of the recently remodelled Main House.

The new room features six PC stations with ample room for wheelchairs and for support tutors to work alongside the individuals. Table heights can be adjusted at the push of a button and there is also an enormous interactive touch screen which will be used for teaching and engaging participants.
Students and staff using computers at The Grange

‘IT applications can make life much easier for people with disabilities,’ says Skills & Activities Manager, Phil Edmunds. ‘A person with communication difficulties or for someone who is unable to go out to the shops on their own now has access to a world of choice online. For others it offers great opportunities to research information and pursue leisure opportunities with the added bonus of having the ability to stay in touch with friends and family.’

Scott Goddard has joined The Grange as Learning Support Tutor. He has a professional IT background but emphasises he won’t be teaching people to programme, for example. ‘For us at The Grange it’s more about how IT can enhance a person’s life and help them grow in confidence and independence. Sessions held in the Karten CTEC Centre will cover a variety of topics and issues to help people improve and best utilise technology in their everyday lives.’

The Grange’s IT Training centre, previously had only limited resources and there wasn’t adequate space for people with mobility issues to move around. The new Karten CTEC Centre enables more people to access this resource and make full use of a modern IT facility.

Jisc Connect More event at The University of Nottingham

I recently attended Jisc’s Connect More event and had the opportunity to network, share practice and consider future developments with a wide range of practitioners and experts in the digital field.  There is a link to podcast from the event below.

The Connect More event enabled delegates to explore and understand ways in which they can get the most out of digital.  There was a balance between hands-on experiential learning in the Digi Lab to more formal presentations with Q&A opportunities.

The Digi Lab was great fun and as a result I purchased myself a new gadget, a water-proof Borescope for all those things and places that you wish you could see but can’t.  It’s also waterproof.  Using a free app Camera Fi the image appears on your Smartphone.  You can also take pictures or videos of what you are looking at.Borescope

The Robotics in the Digi Lab was great fun.  I have included a video of a robot in action during a demo. 

NAO Robot
Watch the Video
But the big question is “Is there a place for robotics in your learning environment?”  Answers on a post card ……

I was reminded of the range of resources that Jisc has developed to support providers to use digital technologies effectively to enhance the learners’ experience.  Visit and listen to the podcast for further details.

A number of Jisc guidance documents are available on a wide range of subjects.  Many are quick read and therefore very accessible.  Find via this link

Event Dates and Contact Us

Network events 2016

13 October 2016 – Action For Blind People – South West
19 October 2016 – Percy Hedley – North East
2 November 2016 – QAC – Midlands
10 November 2016 – Newbridge – North West
17 November 2016 – Share Community – London

Further programme details to follow.  Bookings for events will be taken in September.

Keeping in touch

You can keep up to date with the activities of the Karten Network in a number of ways:
Karten Network website –
Jiscmail - are you signed up to the jiscmail distribution list?  Let Dawn know if you would like any other members of staff adding to this email group
Follow us on Facebook and Twitter – search for Karten Network

Contact us

Dawn Green:     Tel 07821 723941

Angela Hobbs:

Martin Pistorius:

Debbie Ben:

Copyright © 2016 Ian Karten Charitable Trust, 

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