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Assistive Technology

Assistive technology is any item, piece of equipment, technology, or software that is used to increase or maintain the functional capabilities for people with disabilities or diagnosed conditions. Assistive technology can aid people who have difficulty with, but not limited to, typing, writing, memory, seeing, hearing, and walking. Different disabilities may require or benefit from different types of assistive technology. Note that this excludes medical devices that are surgically implanted, such as a pacemaker or cochlear implant.

The resources compiled below are linked directly to access. With the exception of those with an asterisk, the listed resources below are free to access and/or included with your Microsoft account. 

*The resources denoted with an asterisk (*) require a subscription, which requires accommodation through Student Accessibility Services. Please contact us if you believe you would benefit from subscription access.

Screen Readers and Text to Speech
  • Read & Write*: Read & Write is a literacy support tool that can be used to read text aloud, as well as to proofread and revise papers and assignments. Features include text to speech, text & picture dictionaries, vocabulary lists, grammar corrections, and dictation tools. 
  • Speechify: Speechify is a text to speech reader that can read out multiple forms of text, including emails, docs, pdf's, news articles, and more. There are several AI generated voices to choose from. Speechify is offered online, as a Google chrome extension, and as an app for Apple and Android devices.
  • Natural Reader: NaturalReader is a text to speech reader that can be used for multiple forms of text, including pdf's, documents, copied and pasted text, and more. There are multiple formats, including an online version, mobile app, and Google chrome extension. 
  • Microsoft Speak: Speak is a built-in text to speech feature of Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, and OneNote. It is free for all students as a part of Microsoft Office 365, which can be accessed at Microsoft Office 365 @ W&M.
  • Bookshare*: Bookshare is an ebook library that makes reading easier. It is easily customizable to make it easy to read in the format that works best for you. Features include audiobooks, karaoke-style highlighting, as well as being able to read in braille or large font.
  • Learning Ally*: Learning Ally is a digital library that features audiobooks. It is designed to help students that struggle to read, including students with physical and learning disabilities.
  • Access Text*: AccessText Network aims to connect textbook publishers to universities across the country, with a shared mission of ensuring students with disabilities have equal access to their textbooks in an electronic format and a timely manner.
Dictation (Speech to Text)
  • Microsoft Word Dictation: Microsoft Word comes with a dictation feature that allows users to use speech-to-text to type content with only their voice. It is free for all students as a part of Microsoft Office 365, which can be accessed at the following link (Microsoft Office 365 @ W&M).
  • Google Voice Typing: Google Docs and Google Slides are both equipped with speech-to-text features.
Note Taking and Audio Recording
  • Glean*: Glean is a note taking software that allows users to record their classes, add notes, and add PowerPoint slides all in one place. Glean can also be used to transcribe lectures from audio to text, allowing students to read information they may have missed during the lecture.
  • Livescribe*: The Livescribe smartpen is an physical assistive technology aid that digitally captures everything an individual writes on their Livescribe notebooks. The written information is able to be securely transferred and digitized onto a desktop, tablet, or mobile device. In addition, Livescribe smartpens can also record audio and synchronize it to whatever is written.
  • Rev*: Rev creates audio and video transcriptions, as well as and English closed captions, all with a 99% accuracy. Schools and online educators can use Rev to transcribe lectures, webinars, and interviews.
  • Otter*: Otter provides users with real-time captions and notes for in-person and virtual lectures, classes, or meetings. Otter can be connected to both Google and Microsoft calendars, and can automatically join and record meetings on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet.
Screen Overlays
  • BeeLine Reader: BeeLine reader is a screen overlay that makes reading on-screen easier, faster, and more enjoyable. Multiple eye-guiding color gradients are available to help separate long blocks of text. BeeLine is available as a chrome and pdf extension, as well as on Apple and Android app stores.
  • Color Filters in Windows: All Windows computers have built in color filters that can help users distinguish between things that differ only by color. There are multiple options available.