Tax relief on purchases of See and Learn teaching materials

We are pleased to confirm that we are now able to supply our See and Learn kits free of VAT for use with children with Down syndrome.

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We are pleased to announce that we are now able to supply our See and Learn teaching materials free of VAT to eligible clients in the UK and the European Union. This follows discussions with HM Revenue and Customs and confirmation that the resources now fall within the provisions of the VAT Act 1994.

We are therefore permitted to supply See and Learn teaching materials free of VAT on the following conditions:

  • the item(s) are supplied to children with Down syndrome or a condition resulting in similar disabilities likely to be assisted by the materials
  • the item(s) are being purchased specifically for use with the disabled child or a group of disabled children and not for business or other purposes (such as by other non-disabled children)
  • the item(s) are supplied to the disabled child (or their parent or guardian) within the UK or the European Union; or the item(s) are supplied to a charity within the UK to make available for a disabled child for their personal use

For more detailed guidance about eligibility for tax relief, please refer to VAT Notice 701/7: VAT reliefs for disabled and older people.

We have only recently received confirmation of HMRC’s review and are currently working to make available an electronic declaration form that can be used to claim tax relief on purchases of See and Learn materials. If you wish to purchase See and Learn teaching materials and claim tax relief, please wait until we have the new forms available. (Check back here for updates.)

Please note that the tax relief only applies to See and Learn teaching materials. We are not able to zero-rate the supply of See and Learn apps sold through app stores. Nor are other taxable items (for example, DVDs, PDF ebooks and checklists) eligible for tax relief.

This ruling on tax relief for See and Learn materials does not affect supplies to clients outside the EU. Goods exported outside the EU are already zero-rated.

If you have any questions, please contact us at hello@dseenterprises.org

Why we are developing the See and Learn programs

By Professor Sue Buckley

As we continue to release new See and Learn teaching programs as apps and kits – most recently with the release of the first step in See and Learn Numbers, I wanted to share some of the reasons why we are developing these resources and what we hope they will offer children with Down syndrome.

Professor Sue BuckleyFor many years, we have drawn on a growing body of research investigating the learning difficulties experienced by children with Down syndrome to inform better education. We published a book and a video based on some of our earliest research in 1986. Ever since then, we have worked to bring evidence-based advice to parents and to teachers through our services, publications and our training.

Practical support for parents and professionals

See and LearnParents and educators regularly tell us that learning about the children’s needs through books, films and training events is helpful, but that they do not always have the time or the confidence to follow the advice and make their own teaching materials. This feedback is what led us to start to develop the See and Learn programs – to make it easier for parents and educators to support their children’s learning in key areas of early development.

Building on the available evidence – and practical experience

There is a shameful lack of research evaluating developmental and educational interventions for children with Down syndrome. In fact, our study of a reading and language intervention was the first randomized controlled trial to evaluate a teaching program with children with Down syndrome.

We regularly submit grant applications together with leading academic partners in the UK and USA. Over the past 5 years, we have sought funds to evaluate speech interventions, memory training and its potential benefits for language and learning, a reading comprehension intervention, and the effects of shared book reading on language. Funding is scarce and none of our recent applications have been successful.

See and LearnMeanwhile, parents, therapists and educators need to help children today and we therefore have to do our best based on what current research tells us about the learning needs of children with Down syndrome and about typical developmental pathways and learning – together with what we have learned from many years of practical experience of working directly with children, their families, therapists and educators.

Supporting individual progress through developmental steps and milestones

See and LearnChildren learn by building on what they already know and can do. The See and Learn teaching programs are designed to help them do just that. They teach in small developmental steps in the order children learn in each area of development.

Children with Down syndrome are all different and learn at different rates. Our teaching programs provide parents and teachers with clear instructions on how to record progress and how to choose the right activity at the right level of difficulty for each individual child.

Importantly, we identify key steps in the learning pathway which demonstrate the child has reached an important milestone and is ready to move forward and build on it – for example, understanding cardinality and being ready to move to simple calculations in See and Learn Numbers, saying 50+ words and being ready to join words together in See and Learn Language and Reading, and being able to join particular consonants and vowels and therefore ready to practice whole words in See and Learn Speech.

Helping children to learn how to learn

See and LearnSee and Learn programs recommend short, daily, planned and structured teaching sessions and expect children to sit still, pay attention and learn. Our experience has shown us it is important to start teaching sessions early at home to give children the skills they need to learn and need for success in preschool and school. In short teaching sessions, children not only increase their attention span, they learn to interact with a partner, to point, to take turns, to imitate, to follow directions, to respond to questions, and to initiate interactions in ways that support success, encourage problem solving, persistence and feelings of competence.

Teaching tools

See and LearnThe See and Learn teaching programs are more than just teaching activities and games. They are explicitly designed to enable parents and educators to teach children with Down syndrome in methodical, developmental steps. Just like the printed kits, the apps are also designed to help an adult work with and teach a child. (Please don’t buy our apps if you are hoping to sit your child in front a screen to teach themselves! Learning to speak clearly builds on both the visual and auditory cues provided through human interaction, teaching counting and cardinality will take much prompting and modelling at first, as will learning vocabulary and early reading.)

Mastering the activities in a See and Learn kit or app may take a child many months. Indeed, some See and Learn steps cover stages of learning we expect to take children several years to complete from preschool and into primary school (for example See and Learn First Counting, See and Learn Saying Later Words, See and Learn First Sentences).

Supporting parents at home and teachers and assistants at school

See and Learn kits are designed to help parents teach their children and they are also ideal for use in school. They do not assume prior knowledge or training – they come with full information on how children learn, how to teach and how to use record forms to chart children’s progress allowing teaching assistants to use them very effectively in the classroom on a daily basis under teacher support. The principles of the See and Learn teaching approaches should increase the skills and confidence of anyone using them and give ideas for using these principles in other areas of teaching as well as ideas for extending and generalizing the content of the programs.

Future data collection

See and LearnWe have also designed our apps to be ready to support future data collection – both to provide timely and meaningful information to parents and educators about individual children’s progress, and to gather large-scale data sets on the expected rates of progress of children with Down syndrome in these areas of learning (which we do not have and cannot get funding to collect in the traditional way). We believe this will be valuable for parents and professionals, and also immensely important for researchers. While the apps are already designed to support this, we now need to build the infrastructure to collect the data from the apps and present useful progress and milestone information back to parents and teachers. We are actively seeking funds to start this next phase of work.

Helping us fund new research and development

Over the last two years we have devoted a considerable amount of staff time to developing new See and Learn teaching programs and apps to support speech, language and reading, numbers and (soon) memory development. We have invested heavily in developing new app editions that run on a variety of tablets and computers, and that in the future will support more extensive progress tracking and research data collection.

Only some of these costs have been funded by grants and donations and we therefore have to recover the rest from what we charge for the See and Learn kits and apps. Once we have recovered these development costs, we plan to use the proceeds from the sales of the kits and apps to fund continuing development and to support new scientific research.

It is unfortunate that so few donors are interested in supporting educational research to improve learning outcomes for children with Down syndrome – learning outcomes that are so critical for their future quality of life, such as clearer speech, basic numeracy, a larger vocabulary, better memory skills, and the reading skills necessary to access a broader education. We therefore see no option but to increasingly fund future research from fees for our products and services.

Future directions

We have invested heavily in developing app editions of new and existing See and Learn programs. Much of that investment in programming will now support a wider range of future resources, including more for older children.

We also believe that apps are beneficial for the children (visual, enticing, interactive) and that apps, together with ebooks and other electronic resources and services, offer the best opportunity for scaling up better support for children with Down syndrome around the world. To achieve this, we will be investing in translations and adaptations of apps, kits and new ebooks to ensure that families and educators everywhere can access the latest research, information and guidance to better support early development and education for children with Down syndrome.

Keep in touch

I think that I have made clear why I am excited about what we can do to better support early intervention and education for children with Down syndrome around the world. I am equally excited about the opportunities that new technologies offer us to improve our understanding of the children’s particular needs and of how we can best help them. Our new See and Learn resources are just the beginning.

Please keep in touch. As we continue to develop these resources and services, we need your feedback. Let us know what we are getting right and what we are not getting right, and what we can do better.

To find out more about See and Learn, visit the See and Learn web site. We offer regular webinars that you can attend and where you can ask questions. We also have a See and Learn Facebook group, and you can contact us via hello@seeandlearn.org or leave your comments on this blog.

See and Learn First Counting iPad app now available

The iPad app version of the first step in our new See and Learn Numbers program is now available. See and Learn First Counting is designed to help parents and educators teach children the number words, numerals and counting from 1 to 10.

 

See and Learn First Counting is designed to teach children to say the number words, to recognize the numerals, to link quantities to numbers, to count, and to understand the concepts of cardinality and equivalence for the numbers 1 to 10. See and Learn First Counting is also designed to teach the key math language needed at this stage of number learning.

 

Designed by internationally recognized researchers and experts in the development and education of children with Down syndrome, See and Learn First Counting is designed to meet the children’s specific learning needs, including adaptations to lessen language and working memory demands, promote learning consolidation in small steps, and a focus on clear and uncluttered visual representations of objects and concepts. See and Learn First Counting is also likely to be helpful for other children who benefit from teaching in small steps with visual supports.

Announcing See and Learn Numbers

We are delighted to announce a new addition to our See and Learn resources. See and Learn Numbers is designed to help parents and educators teach children basic number skills and concepts. It will be available soon as apps and kits.

See and Learn Numbers is designed to teach young children to learn to count, to link numbers to quantity, to understand important concepts about the number system and to calculate with numbers up to 10. It also teaches early mathematical concepts important for understanding space, time and measurement – including color, size, shape, ordering, sorting and patterns.

Initially, we will be publishing three steps in the See and Learn Numbers program: See and Learn First Counting, See and Learn First Concepts and See and Learn First Sums.

We anticipate releasing the iPad edition of See and Learn First Counting in August, with kits available from our US and UK stores from September. App editions for Android tablets and Windows 10 devices will follow later this year, together with the kits and app editions of See and Learn First Concepts and See and Learn First Sums.


The development of See and Learn Numbers has been made possible by the generous support of The Rayne Foundation, the UK Big Lottery Fund and many private donors.

Controlling audio on iPads

We have had a few calls about sounds not playing on some iPads. Here’s some things to look for if you think the sound in our apps is not working when you think it should be.

Firstly, check the app settings via the settings menu option in the main menu screen. By default, sound prompts are not turned on in our See and Learn Speech apps. Use the options provided in the menu screen to turn on audio prompts in response to certain actions (new card presented, card tapped):

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Next, check the volume is turned up on the iPad!

Finally, if your iPad has a side switch check it is not muting sounds. The side switch can be used to either lock the screen orientation or to mute some sounds and alerts. See this article for further information:

If you are still experiencing problems, please get in touch – hello@seeandlearn.org


UPDATE: We will change this in future versions, overriding the ringer mute setting to always play sound as long as the volume is turned up and prompts are turned on in the app’s settings.

See and Learn Putting Sounds Together now available for iPads

The second step in See and Learn Speech is now available as an app for iPads. See and Learn Putting Sounds Together is designed to help children learn to combine sounds as they progress towards saying whole words clearly.

See and Learn Putting Sounds Together – the second step in See and Learn Speech – is now available in an updated edition for iPads.

See and Learn Putting Sounds Together supports activities that encourage attention, listening, and production of early vowel-consonant combinations and simple symbolic sounds.

See and Learn Putting Sounds Together app for iPads

Building on the skills taught in See and Learn Playing with Sounds, See and Learn Putting Sounds Together can help children learn to combine sounds as they progress towards saying whole words clearly.

See and Learn Playing with Sounds now available for iPads

The first step in See and Learn Speech is now available as an app for iPads. See and Learn Playing with Sounds is designed to help young children with Down syndrome listen to and learn speech sounds, identify the differences between sounds and to produce individual speech sounds.

See and Learn Playing with Sounds – the first step in See and Learn Speech – is now available in an updated edition for iPads.

See and Learn Playing with Sounds supports activities that encourage attention, listening, discrimination and production of the sounds that make up speech.

See and Learn Playing with Sounds app for iPads

See and Learn Playing with Sounds introduces 41 speech sounds (phonemes) in the English language with clear picture card prompts. The app includes four activities: Listening to Single Sounds, Listening to Different Sounds, Selecting Different Sounds, and Saying Sounds.

Later steps in See and Learn Speech build on the skills taught in See and Learn Playing with Sounds to combine individual sounds in simple vowel consonant combinations and then whole words.

Audio prompts in See and Learn Speech apps

We have received a few questions about why there is no sound on by default in the See and Learn Speech apps, so would like to expand a bit on the guidance shipped with the apps.

This is by design. The default settings in the See and Learn Saying Words, See and Learn Saying More Words and See and Learn Saying Later Words are for audio prompts to be turned off in each activity. This will be the same in the See and Learn Playing with Sounds and See and Learn Putting Sounds Together apps that we will launch in the coming weeks.

The purpose of the See and Learn Speech program is to help children with Down syndrome develop clearer speech. When learning to imitate sounds and words, children can benefit from seeing the mouth movements and shapes necessary to produce them. We therefore recommend that – at first – the parent or teacher makes the sounds and holds the computer device (if possible) across their chest, just below their mouth, so that the child can easily switch their attention from the visual prompt to the adult’s mouth. For similar reasons, we advise against combining gestures (e.g. signs) with speech sounds activities – we would like the children focused on the sounds and mouth movements rather than moving their hands or arms.

As the children progress and begin to imitate sounds and words, turning on the sounds can be helpful for encouraging practice, and we do provide this option in the settings screen. Instructions can be found here:

Updated See and Learn Saying Words apps for iPads

New versions of our See and Learn Saying Words, Saying More Words and Saying Later Words are now available for download from Apple’s App Store. The new versions include some bug fixes and performance improvements, and support for iOS 8.0.

New versions of each of our apps for practicing saying whole words – See and Learn Saying Words, See and Learn Saying More Words and See and Learn Saying Later Words – are now available for download from Apple’s App Store. Existing users can obtain the free update by opening the App Store app on their device and tapping Updates.

Most of the changes are bug fixes, performance improvements and updates to support iOS 8.0. We continue to support all versions of iOS from 5.1 on iPads, and recommend that all users update, regardless of which iOS version they are using.

One feature change is the introduction of visual indicators to highlight interactions in the activities. For example, when a card is tapped the the card is now highlighted with an orange border. Similarly, if voice prompts are turned on and a prompt is being spoken relating to a card, the card will also be highlighted.

See and Learn Saying Words - Practicing Saying Words - iPad edition

The main motivation for this is to support new matching and selecting activities in forthcoming apps where several cards maybe presented on the screen and we want to focus the child’s attention on a particular one. The way the visual indicators respond to touch match whether a selection (tap) will be recognized – i.e. if you tap down on a card it is highlighted, but if you slide your finger off the card (while holding it down), the highlight goes away because if you now lift your finger up this would not count as a tap on the card.

Further information: