Assistive technology products are designed to provide additional accessibility to individuals who have physical or cognitive difficulties, impairments, and disabilities. The instructions included in this LibGuide are for the Windows computers on the student network at the UCL Institute of Education. All the programs are open source or free to download.
The assistive technology programs on the UCL Institute of Education student network can be accessed by clicking on the arrows next to 'Assistive Technology' at the bottom right hand side of of the task bar on your screen.
The range of assistive technologies include:
On-screen keyboards which provide an image of a standard or modified keyboard on the computer screen. On-screen keyboards are helpful for individuals who are not able to use a standard keyboard due to dexterity or mobility difficulties.
Text-to-Speech tools are software designed to speak text out loud. These programs are helpful for those who have difficulty seeing or manipulating conventional print materials; people who are learning English as a foreign language; and people who comprehend better when they hear and see text highlighted simultaneously. Text-to-Speech programs include Balabolka, Orato and Read & Write on the Institute of Education student network or ‘Say-it; Save-it’ for Apple Macs.
Coloured overlays can be useful to assist reading for those with visual stress which is where people can experience unpleasant visual symptoms when reading. The UCL Institute of Education student network includes T-Bar, RapidSet and SSOverlay. ‘My Tint’ for Apple Mac is also reported to be very good or try Screen Shades.
Screen magnifiers, work like a magnifying glass for the computer by enlarging a portion of the screen which can increase legibility and make it easier to see items on the computer. See Magnifying glass and Microsoft Magnifier on the student network.
Screen readers are used to verbalise, or "speak," everything on the screen into a computerised voice that is spoken aloud. Screen readers are essential for computer users who are blind. See NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access) on the UCL Institute of Education student network. Text and audio instructions for the use of NVDA can be found here.
It is also possible to use NVDA to evaluate the accessibility of web content with a screen reader and, to allow you to do this, a guide to the basic features of NVDA can be found here.
Concept Mapping is a technique where relationships can be visually represented. They start with a main idea and branch out to show how that main idea can be broken down into specific topics. They are are very useful tool for people who think visually and assist them to move to the linear thinking required for reports and essays. X-Mind and Inspiration are included on the UCL Institute of Education's student network and X Mind for Apple Mac can be downloaded here.