There are many technologies and online tools that exist to assist students with their studies. These can be in the form of computer programs, web-based tools, browser extensions, and apps.
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology is the specialised equipment and technology that 'assists' students to access and participate in learning. Assistive technology can support a student’s presence, participation, and achievement in different ways (Ministry of Education, 2022).
This page covers the different forms of assistive technology and offers some suggestions for each type.
The Accessibility Service have specialised equipment that you may be able to hire to assist your learning. You will need to be registered with the Accessibility Services to access these devices.
Please make an appointment with the Accessibility Service by clicking the Book an appointment button at the top of the page
The ReaderPen is a hand-held tool that reads printed text aloud.
ReaderPens have three main functions of, text reading, hearing dictionary definitions, and scanning text to files for use on another device (PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone). These devices are designed to provide people with reading difficulties greater independence in their reading.
The Neo Smartpen M1
The Neo Smartpen M1 feels like a regular pen but has many more features.
You use the Neo Smartpen M1 with a particular notebook that comes with the pen. The notes or drawings you create in the notebook are captured and transferred to a device using the Neo Notes application (phone, tablet, or PC/laptop).
Sensory Processing and Sensory Modulation
In simple terms, sensory processing describes how our brains respond to environmental stimuli. Some people have sensory sensitivities that can significantly affect their ability to learn.
Sensory modulation describes actions or tools that assist people to regulate their response to environmental stimuli. Some sensory modulation tools that students might use are, noise cancelling headphones, light sensitivity shades, or stimming or fidget tools.
If you experience any sensory processing challenges in your learning environments, please meet with the Accessibility Service to discuss further.
Assistive software are computer programs that are specially designed to assist individuals to access online/digital content. For example, people with reading challenges may find text-to-voice programs make online/digital text more accessible.
Grammarly is more than just a proof-reader, it offers comprehensive feedback on spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, and writing style. Grammarly can help you find the best words to express yourself and communicate your ideas with more easily.
To access the premium version of Grammarly you will need to be registered with the Accessibility Service.
Microsoft Learning Tools
Microsoft offers a range of learning tools that can be used within their suite of products. These learning tools can assist learners with their reading, writing, math and communication challenges.
See the Microsoft Learning Tools webpage for more information.
Microsoft 365 Accessibility Features
Microsoft 365 has many accessibility features that have been designed to meet the needs of people with different abilities. These accessibility features include making documents easier to read, increased zoom capability, and reading digital and physical text (textbooks or handouts) out loud.
See Microsoft Office Accessibility webpage for more information.
Microsoft have categorised the different features into six groups:
- Vision Impairment
- Hearing Impairment
- Learning Impairment
- Mobility and Mental Health
Windows Operating Systems Accessibility Features
Windows has been designed to enhance productivity, creativity, and to be more accessible to more people.
See Windows Accessibility webpage for more information.
Windows have categorised the different features into five groups:
- Dexterity & Mobility
- Using Windows with a screen reader
Apple Products Accessibility Features
Apple have designed many features within their operating systems to make their products more accessible for people with different abilities. These features include making documents easier to read, increased zoom capability, and reading digital and physical text (textbooks or handouts) out loud.
See Apple Accessibility webpage for more information.
Apple have categorised the different features into four groups:
Google Chrome Accessibility Extensions
The Google Chrome web browser has many Accessibility Extensions that can assist learners with accessing online content. These include text-to-speech or screen readers, speech-to-text, math assistance, writing assistance and more.
See Chrome web store – Accessibility Extensions to explore what’s available.
Listen to any email, webpage, google doc or PDF with the Natural Reader Chrome Extension.
Listen to any email, webpage, google doc or PDF with the Speechify Chrome Extension.
Readme – Text to Speech TTS
Listen to any email, webpage, google doc or PDF with the Readme – Text to Speech TTS Chrome Extension.
Voice In Voice Typing
Voice In enables voice typing - it makes it easy to type in the browser using voice-to-text.
Whether it is writing emails in Gmail, responding to customer tickets, replying to chats or learning pronunciations, Voice In Speech-To-Text extension lets you do them all using your voice.
Speechnotes Speech to Text
Save time and energy and type with your voice on any site across the web with this extension. Speechnotes works on any page, including gmail and others. Includes a keyboard shortcut to start and pause recognition.
Equatio – Maths mad digital
Equatio lets you easily create mathematical equations, formulas and quizzes. Intuitively type or handwrite, with no tricky maths code to learn.
Grammarly is more than just a proof-reader, it’s a tool that helps you write with confidence, find the best words to express yourself. Grammarly gives you comprehensive feedback on spelling, grammar, punctuation, clarity, and writing style.
Mobile/Smart Phone Accessibility Apps
Apple iPhone – Apps for Accessibility
The Apple App Store has many tools that can improve accessibility for Apple devices.
Using the Accessibility features on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, these apps help with everything from routine tasks to communication and language skills.
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