Assistive Technology

What is assistive technology?


One description of it is:


“simply anything that can help a person with disabilities do something they cannot do, or help them do it better than they can without it” (Reed P., July/August 1998, Disability Sources).


Assistive technology includes a wide range of computer hardware, software and devices that assist learning, and can be very useful for people with specific learning disabilities.  This page will outline some of the most popular types of assistive technology software currently available, where you can purchase it from, or if it is available for free (open-source software).  The News blog on Meta-Learning's home page aims to keep you updated with the latest technology.


If you have an assessment report as evidence of a specific learning disability and are currently studying, you may be eligible to apply for funding for assistive technology through Workbridge.



Voice Recognition/Dictation Software


Dragon Naturally Speaking

Voice recognition software (speech to text, and text to speech). You train the software to recognise your voice for dictating your ideas. This can be used for recording key points when reading, noting ideas when planning assignments, and drafting written work.



Read Aloud / Text to Speech Software


TextHelp Read and Write Gold


This has read-aloud and editing features (such as phonetic spell checker, word prediction, screenshot reader) that are usefully during the writing process.  Readings can be scanned in to be read aloud, and it is useful for proofreading written work.


Mindmapping Software



This is very useful for brainstorming ideas, and planning and structuring your written work.  It can be used in a visual format (concept map) or outline view (linear).  It can also be used for revising for exams.  You can download a free 30-day trial of Inspiration.



Freeplane is an open source (free) software for building concept maps.  Concept maps can also be converted into an outline view.



Screen tinting software


Thomson's screen tinter is free to download.  Simply select the colour you prefer, and your screen will be tinted with your chosen colour.



Multi-purpose software


MyStudyBar (free)


Similar to popular commercial programs which use a floating toolbar to support literacy. Includes applications for concept mapping, screen masking (tinting), word prediction, talking dictionary, text-to-speech, voice recognition and more.




Convert documents to talking books


Create&Convert (free)


A tool which is able to create or transform digital texts and to convert them into talking or e-books.


Spellchecking software




Designed for people with specific learning and writing difficulties, Ghotit is a reasonably priced spelling and grammar checker.

TextHelp Read and Write Gold (see above)





Dictaphone/recording devices:


A Dictaphone can be used to record lectures, and can be a useful supplement to own notes to revise at your own pace.  Can also be used to revise for exams.  Available from electronic stores.