Assistive technology is the term used for specialist equipment or computer software, which allows you to increase the quality and consistency of your work.
If you have a disability or long-term medical condition, you may be recommended to use assistive technology to assist you in your studies. This will often be funded by your Education Authority or funding body through the Disabled Students’ Allowance.
Each piece of assistive technology has a different purpose to support your specific study requirements, depending on your disability. These can have a significant impact, not just on your studies at Ulster but also in your current or future employment. Once you understand how to use these technologies and grasp their benefits, you will see an increase in the quality of your learning, revision and retention of information.
What types of assistive technology are available?
The assistive technology industry is continually developing new and updated products. These include specialist items for students with visual or hearing impairments as well as more widely used items to support notetaking, organisation of work and proofreading. The following list details the items that are most widely used at Ulster University.
Mindview is a mind mapping software that enables you to create a mind map on your computer.
Texthelp Read and Write Gold
This program contains a toolbar, which provides multiple features to aid with vocabulary and punctuation. The software can also read text back to you.
Similar to Read and Write Gold, this software also provides you with a toolbar to aid your punctuation and vocabulary and can also read text back to you.
Dragon Naturally Speaking
Dragon software consists of a toolbar, which enables you to dictate your notes to the computer via a microphone headset, and then it will convert this speech into text. You can also use Dragon to control your computer and surf the web.
Livescribe is a smart pen that allows you to record hand written notes and audio notes at the same time. The pen comes with multiple dotted note pads, which contain patterns that enable your pen to track what notes are being taken while the audio is being recorded.
Digital Voice Recorder
This device allows you to record lectures and then listen to them back at a later stage on your device or even on your computer!
This software allows you to record lectures and breaks the recording down into visual audio chunks. These audio chunks can then be marked by different colours to represent different topics or themes covered by the lecturer. Students can also add in lecture slides and their own typed notes.
Useful Google Chrome extensions
If you have not been granted access to the technologies above, it may be worthwhile to download and use the following Google Chrome extensions.
Read and Write
This is a very useful extension which provides many features contained within the full program. This extension is free for 30 days and then payment will be required should you wish to continue using the extension.
Grammarly will make sure your messages, documents, and social media posts are clear and mistake-free. Click here to download.
VoiceIn Voice Typing
This software has a similar purpose to Dragon by allowing dictation into web pages (e.g. composing an email by voice). Your speech is converted to text.
This extension allows text to be read back to you at your preferred speed by changing the words per minute (WPM) rate.
This extension gives a definition of any of the words on the web page and allows the pronunciation of the word to be read back to you.
This extension is used to automatically highlight the most important text on an article you are reading online.
This extension is simple but very powerful. It has been designed to remove distracting ads from websites and makes web pages less cluttered and easier to read.
This extension is used to provide keyboard shortcuts for navigation and control for those who may find difficulty using a mouse.